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TMCNet:  Craig runway voice: 'I am the move afoot' ; Marketer of charter flights wants the City Council to revisit issue [Florida Times Union]

[January 22, 2014]

Craig runway voice: 'I am the move afoot' ; Marketer of charter flights wants the City Council to revisit issue [Florida Times Union]

(Florida Times Union Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) One man's campaign to build support for a longer runway at Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport is raising concern among neighborhood advocates who have resisted similar proposals for decades.


Marshall Wood, marketing coordinator for a charter-flight company based at Craig, is asking business operators involved with the airport to meet in January to develop a common set of arguments about public benefits of an extension.

"There is a move afoot. I am the move afoot," said Wood, a retired Air Force major who said he's trying to convince City Council members to rethink a policy the council adopted in the 1990s that limits the runway to 4,000 feet.

But the time to think about an extension passed decades ago, when land that could have been bought as a buffer area was developed instead for housing subdivisions and businesses, said Lad Hawkins, a longtime Arlington activist.

Hawkins said lengthening the runway would lead to larger planes using the field, and increase both the noise and risk of aircraft crashes.

Wood argues the reverse is true.

He said the runway's current length means Craig is used heavily by very small planes whose owners are often hobbyists, who statistically have more accidents than professional pilots of the larger, newer "executive" planes the field's name suggests it serves. Wood said that businesses commonly use larger planes now than when Craig opened, and that keeping runway length unchanged will progressively limit the planes that can operate there.

Wood, who also runs a religious organization called CrossOver Jacksonville, said he's pushing the runway subject separate from the company he works for, Malone AirCharter.

Councilman Bill Bishop, whose district includes Craig, said there's a solid consensus against extension, and no plan to pay for any change.

Craig's runway lengths are capped by the city's growth- management plan, and can't be increased without council action.

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority advanced a plan several years ago to extend the runways to about 5,600 feet, but dropped that in 2008, after the airport's neighbors locked up council support to keep runway lengths unchanged.

Authority spokesman Michael Stewart said his agency still hopes someday to revisit the subject, but isn't planning that now.

"As we move forward, we will pursue this issue in conjunction with the City Council," Stewart said. "As it stands right now, we don't have a willing partner."Steve Patterson: (904) 359-4263 (c) 2013 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

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