A public meeting was held recently to address the needs of the Huntington Airport. Many comments were heard about the limitations of the present airport. Some of these comments were: "The Huntington Airport is good only for emergency landings. Prevailing cross winds make it useful only to experienced pilots. Trees and a highway are at the end of the runway create a hazardThe runway needs to be longer. There needs to be a North South runway. The airport hangers and facilities were built in 1955 and have not been changed much since. The county leases the land from the BLM. There is not always someone on duty to sell fuel to incoming planes. There is one plane available for commercial use. There is not enough private money to insure the one plane for training students. To insure the plane for training students is $6,000 to $8,000 per year."
Jones and Demille Engineering, from Richfield, has been hired by the county to prepare and present the Huntington Airport layout plan. Jones and Demille Engineering was represented by John F. Spendlove at the airport planning meeting.
The county commission requested Spendlove to make the airport layout plan available early next year so that it could be included in the Airport Master Plan. The Airport Master Plan is required by the State of Utah in order for Emery County to continue to receive funds for the airport.
This Huntington airport layout plan is to: identify the airport's role and level of service; identify issues relevant to the airport; recommend airport improvements, forecast future airport activity; determine airport capacity and facility requirements and recommendations; prepare airport layout plan drawings; and identify potential environmental impacts.
Ira Hatch is the commissioner responsible for airports in Emery County. Commissioners Ira Hatch, Drew Sitterud and Gary Kofford were in attendance at the planning meeting.
Those attending the meeting were quite interested in the future of Huntington Airport. A few of those attending were: Monte Yeager UDOT Aeronautical Operations Planner, and Kirk E. Nielsen, Aeronautical Planner, from Salt Lake City, Bevin Wilson UDOT Board of Commissioners, Lamar Guymon, Emery County Sheriff, Troy Atwood, Huntington Airport Manager, Rob Midgley, Airport Pilot, and Leon Defriez and Glenn Sebring of Genco Mine Services and Genco Air.
The commissioners feel that more companies and individuals would use the Huntington Airport if improvements were made and that is why they have hired Jones & Demille Engineering to prepare the plan for the future of Huntington Airport.
Yeager pointed out the possibility of getting some state and federal monies for improvements if the airport layout plan met federal requirements. He named other local airports that have recently received funds such as Moab, Blanding, Monticello and Hurricane.
UDOT has some state funds available for airport improvements.
Hatch pointed out that if the runway is lengthened and if another directional runway is made the county would want to negotiate with the BLM for ownership of the airport land and any surrounding land needed for future expansion. The land is presently being leased from the BLM. If the airport were to be expanded for the future many more acres, than the 320 acres now leased from the BLM may be needed.
A suggestion was made that an airport board should be organized by the county. This board would be made up of citizens that have pilot licenses, other citizens and Wilson from the UDOT Board of Commissioners.
Some of those attending wanted improved facilities for visiting pilots, commercial businesses, air training and flying tourists to scenic areas. Others wanted new and larger hanger space and shop space that would be leased to individuals or companies. The need for ground transportation to restaurants, motels and other places in Emery County was discussed.
Sheriff Guymon would like to see facility improvements and more planes at Huntington Airport to assist air Search and Rescue operations.
Midgley a pilot who moved here from Illinois to work at the airport, suggested a 6,000 foot North South runway be built to avoid the crosswind on the present runway and because on hot days a longer runway is needed, when the air density at this altitude, is not enough to give a fully loaded airplane lift enough to get off the ground easily.
More meetings on the future of the Huntington Airport are planned for the future and the public is encouraged to get involved.