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Sun, Dec 02, 2012

Mattituck, NY, Airport Faces Uncertain Future

Closure Of Teledyne Overhaul Facility Raises Concerns Among Pilots

The owners of the land on which Mattituck Air Base in Suffolk County, NY is located say that they are unsure that the airport, the only public airport in the North Fork region, can remain open much longer.

Four months ago, Teledyne Technologies closed its engine overhaul plant at the airport, costing about 20 people their jobs. The work was consolidated with Teledyne's Fairhope, AL, facility.

Then, the airport's fuel storage tanks were given to Albertson Marine Inc, in Southold, according to airplane owner Fred Martin, who keeps his aircraft at Mattituck. Jay Wickham, one of the land owners, said that repairs to the fuel tanks would be very expensive, according to a story appearing in the Suffolk Times newspaper. He said he would entertain a lease agreement with the town to keep the airport open, but is unable to seek a new lease because of issues that remain from an agreement with the last tenant. He said Continental, which was purchased by China's Technify Motors more than a year ago, has not yet competed a certified closure of the business. Wickham says that has to happen before he can enter into negotiations with the town.

Technify is a subsidiary of AVIC. Wickham said that to complete the certified closure, the Chinese company needs to do maintenance and repairs that he says are "years overdue."

But that is leaving pilots in something of a Twilight Zone as far as the airport is concerned. About a dozen airplanes call Mattituck Air Base (21N) home. The paper reports that Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said that an economic advisory committee is working to help keep the airport open, even though the economy has decreased interest in aviation over the past few years. "If you lose an airport, you'll never get another one, and we recognize that," he told the paper. Wickham said that once the roadblocks are cleared, the town will have the option to lease the land with the airport.

FMI: www.suffolkcountyny.gov

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