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The influx of gas and oil industry personnel descending on southeastern Ohio has had a dramatic effect on the Cambridge Municipal Airport. Sales for jet fuel has more than doubled from the same time period last year and operations (business-related for take off and landing) has increased about 40 percent.
"This year's increase in fuel sales were primarily due to corporate jets and helicopters used by representatives of the oil and gas industry," said Terry Losego, airport manager. "General aviation fuel sales are also up from last year, from 8,800 gallons to 9,649."
All figures reflect sales from Jan. 31 to Sept. 30 in 2011 and for the same time period in 2012.
"Compared to several other airports, we are doing OK," he said, "but we could do so much better for our customers and our community."
The airport was open to the public in 1968 and has undergone several improvements throughout the years, but nothing compares to the $3.5 million runway expansion project through a capital improvement program, which began this year, and with completion tentatively scheduled for 2017. The hefty price tag includes a 5 to 10 percent local match of the cost, $84,000 for a project study, a $300,000 environmental study, in addition to other considerations of historical significance.
The airport has a current runway of 4,300 feet with plans for expansion to 5,000 feet.
"Additionally, the current truck and equipment is outdated. The truck used to dispense fuel to planes needs to be replaced -- it's the original truck bought in 1968. It works for small planes, but is not adequate for larger jets. We also need equipment to tow planes that weigh more than 13,000 pounds to a staging area, a larger hangar and an auxiliary power unit (generator) would be nice. None of this is cheap," he said. "But, for all this to happen, things have to fall in place.
"To receive any grant money you must have a certain number of operations per year (500) that use the airport. And you have to have 250 planes that need additional runway."
According to website information, the airport accommodates approximately 3,500 to 4,000 flights per year. There are tie downs for 13 aircraft, 10-T hangers and one community hangar, in addition to Unicom communication and automated weather operating service.
The weather is a pivotal consideration. The ideal temperature for take off and landing is 59 degrees with a barometric pressure of 29.2. Higher temperatures and pressure require a longer runway.
The average temperature in Cambridge for June, July and August of 2012, was 87 degrees. The oil and gas industry is a 24-7-365 business.
Funding for the airport's operating expenses comes from the City of Cambridge, the county, a small amount from the Village of Byesville and Jackson Township, and from fuels sales and hangar fees.
"The oil and gas industry has created a new enthusiasm in the community and with the Airport Authority Board. All airports in Ohio are governed by the Airport Authority Board under the Ohio Revised Code.
"For once, Guernsey County and the entire area is in the spotlight," said Losego. "They [oil and gas people] have brightened the place. We would like to be able to honor our guests' requests."
One request came to fruition -- a pilot's lounge. A place where pilots can relax while their customers are conducting business in town. The new addition to the airport office was paid for by private donations.
"Not one dollar of taxpayer money was used for the lounge. Everything was donated: the entire construction, the electrical and plumbing, to the recliners and the television," said Losego.
"I just hope the city and county can meet the demands of the oil and gas industry. I hope everyone realizes the importance of the infrastructure the oil and gas people need to do their business."
"If we are going to grow, the airport if critical," he said. "We are competing with our neighbors ... There are hundreds of airports in Ohio competing for grant money. We need legislative intervention. We need all entities working together for a common goal."
Abbreviated projected schedule for the Runway Expansion Project. Losego said the airport would be closed for about six weeks during the construction period.
FY2012 -- Prepare plans and specifications for Runway 4-22, which includes bidding phase of project.
FY2013 -- Runway 4-22 rehabilitation.
FY2014 -- Runway 4-22 vertical-guided GPS approach and airport obstruction chart study, which includes data collection of aerial photogrammetry, engineering, ground control topographic survey and object identification for vertical-guided GPS approach analysis.
FY 2015 -- Prepare Runway 4-22 runway safety area compliance/runway extension and cost benefit analysis (Phase I) for stream relocation and runway extension to meet the demand of traffic at the airport. And may include compliance of environmental impact related to runway extension.
FY2016 -- Continuation of study which began in 2015 (Phase I). State apportionment or discretionary Federal Aviation Agency funding is anticipated for this project. Phase II consists of final environmental review process, approval and permitting. Prepare plans and statistics for Runway 4-22 rehabilitation, extension, medium intensity runway lights replacement, installation, runway safety area compliance and taxiway. Plans/statistics include bidding phase of project.
FY2017 -- Runway 4-22 rehabilitation, extension MIRL replacement, RSA compliance construction. (Construction cost is $3.3 million-plus)
FY 2018 -- Taxiway to Runway 4 end construction ($750,000).
FY2019 -- Update Aviation Leadership Plans to reflect current conditions, and as per findings/recommendations of the RSA compliance environmental process (ALP cost is $50,000).
FY2020 -- Wildlife security fencing assessment Phase I ($50,000).
FY2021 -- Wildlife security fencing Phase I construction (Cost is $125,000 and $25,000 for construction management).
Counties in the GAS&OIL magazine distribution areas that have functioning airports:
Guernsey, Belmont, Noble, Muskingum, Coshocton, Monroe, Tuscarawas, Washington, Monroe, Columbiana, Portage, Stark, Carroll, Mahoning and Harrison.