Appling resident Titus Baxter no longer has an airplane on one of the only air strips in Columbia County.
Titus Baxter stands in the middle of his runway at his home in Appling. Baxter no longer owns an airplane.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Members of the county's airport authority haven't met in several years and have no funding. And it doesn't seem that the Federal Aviation Administration will be granting a new airport to the county.
Still, that doesn't mean the authority will be disbanding anytime soon.
"We need to be ready if there is a need and a place (for an airport),'' said Mike Rorick, who has spent the past two to three years on the authority.
The group was established with hopes of Columbia County someday getting its own airport, but it has not held meetings since a proposed executive airport near Horizon South industrial park fell by the wayside in the late 1990s.
The board currently has no funding, but in the past it has. Ron Cross, the chairman of the county's board of commissioners, said the county can't get approval or assistance from the FAA for an airport as long as Daniel Field, Augusta Regional and Thomson-McDuffie Regional airports stay open.
"Several years ago, there was talk that Daniel Field might be closed and the property developed,'' Cross said. "If this should ever happen, we would like to be in a position to at least consider a Columbia County airport.''
But Buster Boshears, the director of Daniel Field and Augusta Regional, said the closing of Daniel Field isn't a possibility.
He said Columbia County's problem isn't that flight patterns would interfere with Daniel Field, it's because the FAA doesn't like approving funding for an airport construction when three others are so close by.
"I think a secondary reason is that Columbia County is a bedroom community, and you are going to have a hard time finding a neighborhood that would allow an airport in their back yard,'' Boshears said.
With the chances of an airport in the county grounded, some board members have even discussed disbanding. But Ernie Blackburn, who has been a member for more than 1 years and has yet to attend a meeting, doesn't agree.
"It would be nice to meet occasionally to keep us abreast of what's going on and discuss the possibilities,'' he said.
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