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Fri, May 03, 2013

Rural VA Airport Told To Stop Using 'Unlicensed Runway'

Had Allowed Glider Operations On Grass Area Adjacent To Paved Runway

Glider pilots operating at Waynesboro's Eagle's Nest Airport (W13) have routinely used the grassy area parallel to the airport's paved runway for landings, saying they preferred to land on the grass to avoid hitting runway lights with their wings.

But the Virginia Department of Transportation has put an end to the practice, saying that the grass is a safety buffer zone, and that the airport is allowing pilots to use an "unlicensed runway" to land the gliders. VDOT cites a state law passed in 2010 as the reason for their decision.

Multiple media outlets including television station WVIR report that Eagle's Nest could lose its license as a public use airport if it continues to allow the off-runway landings. Airport manager John Trissel said that pilots are going to have to be up to speed on landing on a paved runway in any type of conditions.

Television station WHSV reports that Virginia Department of Aviation director Randall Burdette gave the news to airport users Monday. He said that the airport would need a separate licensed turf runway in order to meet state requirements, which the airport's owner Mike Fogle said would be "cost prohibitive."  Burdette also said the airport could make runway improvements to make landing gliders safer.

According to Graham Pitsenberger, the president of Shenandoah Valley Soaring Inc, the group has never had a glider accident at Eagle's Nest.

FMI: www.virginiadot.org

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