Thanks To Black, IGX Still In Business
AOPA this week honored the Speaker of North Carolina's House of
Representatives, James B. "Jim" Black (D-100th Dist.) for his
efforts to save Chapel Hill's Horace Williams Airport (IGX). AOPA
Regional Representative Chris Hudson presented a Presidential
Citation on behalf of AOPA President Phil Boyer.
In the citation, Boyer noted that Speaker Black's work "has
resulted in more effective scrutiny of airport proposals by the
University, a public study for evaluating the effect of major
airport changes, and a moratorium on airport closure, none of which
were possible under the University's prior policy."
UNC Wanted To Close IGX
Last spring, UNC Chancellor James Moeser announced that the
university would close the public-use airport, claiming it had
become a financial drain on the school. It planned to develop the
land into a satellite campus, despite the airport's being home to a
fleet of aircraft (MedAir) used to fly university medical school
doctors around the state to rural health centers.
The AOPA president tried to convince Chancellor Moeser to
reconsider, but when that failed, he arranged to meet with Speaker
Black who guided legislation to keep IGX open for at least two more
years through the legislature. The moratorium gives the aviation
community and the university time to arrive at a collective
solution to continue operation of the Chapel Hill airport beyond
Black was aided in his efforts by Hudson, Dr. Keith Taylor, the
AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer for IGX, and others who
organized an effective e-mail and telephone campaign to convince
lawmakers of the value of Horace Williams Airport.
Taking It To Raleigh
The legislation was included in the state's budget bill. It
prohibits the state-run university from closing the airport until
at least January 1, 2005, and from moving the MedAir unit without
first consulting with the legislature and demonstrating the
benefits such a relocation would bring.
The citation concludes, "On behalf of North Carolinians, air
travelers throughout the country, UNC Medical School's Area
Education Centers (AHEC) program and AOPA members nationwide, more
than 9,000 of whom reside in North Carolina, the Aircraft Owners
and Pilots Association gratefully acknowledges you and your General
Assembly colleagues and your astute cognizance of the need for and
multiple benefits of Horace Williams Airport."