Northern Michigan Airport Looking to Become Safer

A Northern Michigan airport needs to make major improvements they say will make it safer for those flying in and out.

A meeting tonight to discuss a project that would improve safety by getting rid of trees, effectively expanding the usable length of a runway.

MDOT held an open house to make people in Frankfort more aware of a plan to improve Frankfort Dow Memorial Field.

The tree line around the airport has grown so high that it is minimizing the amount of runway that can be used. “They need to meet the agreement with MDOT so that we can keep the airport safe for all the people that come in and use it,” says Richard Reichenbach, local pilot. Rich has been using the airport for years and says it’s becoming unsafe for those large aircraft trying to land because of the tall trees. “The runway is physically the same length but as the trees grow, the approach is become more cluttered so you have to come in steeper and steeper,” says Reichenbach.

MDOT says the airport needs to meet federal and state regulations and eliminate some trees to lengthen the landing area. “The 4,000 feet is more than sufficient for today’s aircraft, it’s just that for landing we’ve only got about 2,900 feet available from one end,” says Mark Noel, planning development section manager for MDOT Aeronautics.

At tonight’s open house the public was able to voice their opinion. many were for the plan but some business owners were concerned about the long run. “I only want what’s best for the community and I hope that MDOT listens to what the community has to say,” says Steve King, owner of Frankfort Pines Assisted Living.

MDOT will decide how many trees will be taken down. “I think soon, I think, I think we’re, this meeting will be very pivotal and I think this data will be crunched and I think hopefully in the next weeks and months we’ll start to know where we stand,” says Jay Darling, Frankfort airport manager.

MDOT says by removing the trees, they’ll be able to increase the landing area for planes by up to 600 feet.