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House budget closes Horace Williams Airport

A provision in the House budget plan would mandate the closing of Horace Williams Airport in Chapel Hill by Aug. 1.

The Senate budget does not include that language, so it's unclear how much momentum there is for closing the airport, which has been an issue for years in Chapel Hill.

Traffic at the airport has dropped since 2011, when UNC-Chapel Hill's medical fleet moved to Raleigh-Durham International Airport. MedAir, the service that flies medical personnel across the state for patient care and training, had used Horace Williams Airport previously. The airport now serves private planes.

UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp said recently that he wished he had been able to close the airport, which is on the large Horace Williams tract slated for further development as Carolina North, a satellite campus.

In the past few years, the future of the airport has been debated at the legislature, which at one point allowed the UNC Board of Governors to create an airport authority to locate another airport in Orange County. Later, that legislation was repealed.

Drew Moretz, the UNC system's lobbyist, said the airport provision in the House bill was not part of the UNC system's policy agenda this year.


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Continuous Operations

It is obvious this is a government run airport. The decision to move the university aircraft away from the airport was a political decision, not a business decision. Given the closeness of the airport to the community, it is without reason that medical center proponents would vote to relocate the aircraft. No business man would make the same decisions to close as the pro government forces have made. This airport has been in continuous operation for somewhere around 75 years or more. It used to be the longest grass runway east of the Mississippi and has served our community well. That being said, only those who have vision and foresight have the knowledge to see the benefits of an airport close to the university and the hospitals. As you may not know, most transplanted organs fly via fixed wing aircraft, not helicopters. Fixed wing aircraft have much better operations in poorer environments than helicopters. Those folks, such as some of the previous commentators, can't see the forest for the trees. Once it's gone, it's gone forever. Think about that the next time you are about to have a transplant or one for a loved one. Test the automobile traffic via NC 54 the next time you are in a hurry and your life depends upon it.

I flew into this airport

I flew into this airport last year and the support from the FBO was non-existent. Seemed like they didn't want anyone to use their airport. Had to pull my plane up the hill to the fuel pump from where I had tied down the plane. Then, waited 30 minutes the next day to get access to the ramp to drop off my luggage at my plane.

Airports are important

Frank Jordan
It is sad to see the attack on airports. In the case of Horace Williams, it has served the community for years. In full disclosure, I learned to fly there almost 40 years ago. Why did I learn to fly? From childhood, flight was always something that intrigued me, and countless others. Lets turn off this dream for all the children who stare up as a small plane takes flight! It is also sad that the UNC administration has not recognized the potential value of aerospace and its related industry. Just look at South Carolina and how the aerospace industry has grown the SC economy. Imagine the jobs that could have been created if UNC administration had had any vision or leadership. As a North Carolinian, it is sad to see this short sited view.

Horace Williams Airport

StevenJoseph -

I can only assume you are either a private pilot or a nearby neighbor who doesn't want to be disturbed by progress and opportunity of the Carolina North project.

What doesn't happen now will happen in the near future - with even greater changes. Welcome to the real world - and stand by.

Horace Williams Airport

What most people don't understand about small airports is that there are many pilots who volunteer their time to transport ill people. Having access to an airport close to a big hospital is a great asset. Many people think that Horace Williams only serves rich people and that pilots of small planes are rich snobs. That is simply not true.

The people who want the airport closed are very short sited. What the University plans to build on the Carolina North piece of property will cause an enormous traffic increase on adjacent roads and the impact of the continuous construction that will take place will all be dumped on the town of chapel hill to pay for. The impact of this development will cost taxpayers more in the long run.

The closing of the airport is political. There are a few people who stand to make a lot of money by closing the airport. So if you are going to say that there are a few arrogant pilots who want to keep the airport opened to serve there own self interests you should first look into the real history of closing the airport and you will see that this issue is not what it seems. We have been told that the airport cost the university money to keep opened. That's a smoke screen. The end result is that closing the airport is going to make some people a lot of money and cost taxpayers way more then keeping the airport there.

The High Cost of Liability Insurance

ScottishFlyer -

"The sales tax from the fuel sales help pay for the airport's existence..." Geesh, gimme a break.

You are obviously one of the few aircraft owners who continue to use the airport for your personal convenience. What arrogance to think that, just because the airport was there first, you should get to use it forever -- even though a busy community has now grown up around it and it serves no University purpose. Take an extra ten or fifteen minutes and fly out of RDU.

Horace Williams Airport

Lily I assume you've been out to the airport counting arrivals and departures daily? Recent stats show this field averages 109 operations per week. 70% local, 26% transient, 2% military and 2% air taxi. 27 aircraft are based there. The sales tax from the fuel sales and ramp fees help pay for this airport's existence. This airport has been here long before neighborhoods encroached on it and residents bitched about the noise. No one ever stops to think about the negative economic impact it has on a community when it's airport closes. It's never replaced. Non-aviation people just hear noise and assume the taxpayers are forking out millions for insurance. It's simply not true. Check the facts before responding to items like this. You'd be amazed at misinformation that's circulated by idle talk.

Horace Williams Airport

Probably still had more flights that the Global Transpark.

Horace Williams Airport

It's amazing this airport is still open with only one or two private flights a day -- and no UNC business. The administrative and maintenance costs, along with heavy liability insurance could be well over two million $ annually. What a horrible waste of the state's money.

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