Gilders can keep using grass area next to runway

Published 6:28 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2013

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Decatur County Airport Committee, members took a step that would allow gliders to continue operating in the grass area adjacent to the paved runway.

Representatives of the Georgia Department of Transportation Aviation Division, Ed Ratigan and Kate Henry, were in attendance to help clarify what types of operations are acceptable.

According to Henry, after consultation with the Federal Aviation Administration, gliders operate at the discretion of the airport sponsor. In this case, the airport sponsor is Decatur County.

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Henry said that there are three options that the county could choose from, relative to the take-offs and landings of the gliders. First, the gliders could use the main paved runway.

Secondly, the gliders could use the runway shoulders in grassed areas. This is the area gliders operating in Decatur County had been using for the past several years.
The final option would be on a different, designated runway in a different area at the airport.

Dewey Robinson, chairman of the Airport Committee, asked Jim Cerone, the airport manager and a member of the committee if there had been any problems with the gliders taking off and landing in the grass area.

“I have not had any problems and it has been going on for about four years now,” Cerone said. “They have always maintained the utmost safety and very courteous. They are aware of the traffic patterns.”

Robinson also noted that he has never had any issues from the glider pilots.
“I fly, personally, out of the airport and the gliders have never been a problem,” he said. “They are courteous, they use radios, and have never been a problem.”

Although the current rules and regulations of the airport say that all takeoffs and landings should be confined to the runway except for emergency situations, gliders have been using the grass area for several years.

The committee voted unanimously to recommend to the Decatur County Board of Commissioners that the county’s ordinances be amended to allow the gliders to operate in the grass area.