The City of Smithville is applying for another airport grant. If approved, this grant would help fund clearing the runway approaches of obstructions.
This basically amounts to cutting trees on private property to keep the glide paths clear according to Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
Airport Manager Wesley Nokes said the city's cost to match the grant is $2,500. "It's been several years since the approaches at the airport have been cleared from obstructions. You are required by the FAA to maintain your approaches. An approach is an imaginary trapazoid that extends off each end of the runway. It's basically like a square ice cream cone and the farther you go out the higher up it gets. It starts at the ground on the runway. Right off the end of the runway, you have to keep that pretty well free and clear of trees and other obstacles. We have some trees that have grown up and according to the FAA survey these trees are penetrating our approaches now. We're going to have to remove them. TDOT has advised us to apply for a grant for $50,000 to clear all these obstacles. It will be a 95/5% matching grant. A five percent cost to the city, which is $2,500. We may not use all of it or we may end up going over that. It's hard to tell until you get in on it and start doing it. I would like permission from the board to go ahead and apply for this so we can get started. It's very important. The FAA can shut down our approaches. They actually have shut down our night time GPS approaches at the airport. No one was aware of that until about a week ago. This is something we need to get taken care of pretty quickly. You can land at night in VFR which is good weather. When the weather is marginal, that's when your GPS approaches are not valid," said Nokes.
The aldermen last week voted to authorize the filing of the grant application.
Meanwhile, the recent runway overlay resurfacing project at the airport has been completed. Runway lights, which have reportedly not been working of late, are being repaired.