Airport to host Aeronautics Commission

The Elkins-Randolph County Airport Authority will be hosting the West Virginia Aeronautics Commission on Oct. 9 at Graceland on the Davis & Elkins College campus, while the airport continues working on needed repairs.

In August, the airport received a $300,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant for infrastructure improvements. The work is 90 percent financed by the FAA, and the remaining 10 percent local share is funded by the aeronautics commission.

“I don’t think they’ve (the Commission) been in Elkins before for a statewide meeting for all West Virginia managers,” said Nils Heinke, president of the Elkins-Randolph County Airport Authority. “The Commission will approve or reject grant requests submitted by airports. Not everyone attends, but the people who have grants pending usually do.”

The commission administers a grant program to encourage and support needed capital improvements to the state’s public airports. Airports meeting the Aeronautics Commission’s criteria can qualify for up to half of the local share required to match FAA funds. The grant program is funded by the state tax on aviation fuel and general revenue funds.

“It will be very unique hosting the meeting at Graceland,” Heinke said. “They’re usually held at airport hangars, terminals, conference rooms and schools.”

The evening prior to the quarterly meeting will feature a train ride from the Elkins Depot, and the following day the meeting and a buffet lunch will be held at Graceland at Davis & Elkins College for an estimated 35 to 40 people.

Meanwhile, the FAA grant will be used to repave the asphalt which has to be taken up and resurfaced, Heinke said.

“We’re starting on the taxiways next week,” said Shawn Tucker, an engineer with Chapman Technical. “J.F. Allen is doing the construction, and it will take four to six weeks.”

Grooving has been finished on one runway, according to Tucker. Grooving helps aircraft run smoothly over wet and slick runways. Safety grooving, pioneered by NASA in the 1960s, uses long, shallow channels inserted into runway or roadway surfaces, enabling excess water to flow off and into the channels.

“The grooving will make a big difference, and will melt the snow faster in the winter,” Tucker said. The airport will operate during the construction.