By Jack Gurner
WATER VALLEY – The municipal airport is open again and is one small step away from final FAA approval.
A new lighting system has been completed and is in operation, according to Mike Scroggins, Airport Manager. “We’re up to date now with frequency control,” Scroggins added.
Frequency control allows a pilot to brighten the runway lights from an aircraft by keying his microphone. Normally, the runway lights remain on at ten percent brightness. When a pilot keys his microphone the lights brighten depending on the number of times the mic is keyed.
“A pilot can key his microphone three times and the lights brighten to 30 percent. If he keys five time the light go to 50 percent and seven times brings the lights to full brightness” Scroggins explained.
Everything has been approved except for the PAPI system and Scroggins expects the FAA to test it in the near future. PAPI – short for Precision Approach Path Indicator – is a visual aid that enables a pilot making an approach to a runway to acquire and maintain the correct glide path.
“We’re working on a five year plan for the airport,” Scroggins said. “We’re set up to do something each year.”
Next year’s project will be to either get a security fence all around the airport or to resurface the runway. Scroggins added that future plans include a 1000-foot extension to the existing runway. Funding for the airport projects has come mainly from federal grants.
According to official FAA operational statistics covering a 12-month period ending in Sept. 2007, there were an average of 71 aircraft operations at the airport. Local general aviation made up 47 percent of the operations while 29 percent were listed as military and 24 percent were transient general aviation.
“We have some people from Oxford who want to put a hanger here,” Scroggins commented on possible future expansion.
The Water Valley Municipal Airport is located three miles northwest of the city and uses the FAA Identifier “33M”.