Vicksburg and its two (2) airports

Mayor Leyens is spending many of our tax dollars, plus many dollars from a federal grant, in an effort to make the local airport “luxurious.” Our taxes also fund the Vicksburg-Tallulah Regional Airport at Mound, Louisiana. The local airport had been “abandoned” by previous administrations who deemed the new (1993) VTR airport as necessary and desirable, and sufficient to serve Vicksburg and Warren County. So, why are we funding two airports? Wasn’t the danger imposed by the tall stack at the Baxter Wilson power plant the reason behind “abandoning” the local airport and building the VTR airport? Who will make use of the local airport? Who will use the VTR airport? Will the money spent on the local airport result in a return to the citizens of the city and county? If not, why upgrade the local airport at all? Is pressure from local businessmen behind the decision? Your opinions are appreciated.

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Published in: on October 11, 2008 at 6:35 pm  Comments (11)  

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  1. It has always been a mystery to me why Vicksburg and Warren County needs one airport, much less two. If big shots with private planes in this city and county require airports, they should buy and maintain their own private airports. Since no commercial flights land at these two airports, what is the ROI of the city and county from these “investments”? It makes no business sense to me. Is there even any decent income produced by the few local private planes currently parked at them or from landing fees of the very few small planes that rarely come here? If they can’t produce adequate income to even break even, I say get out of both airports. Let the private sector own and run them if they wish since these airports benefit only them.

  2. One problem I remember reading in the Letters to the editor a few years ago,it’s steep landing dive for pilots. Now just think of a GulfStream 3 or 5 landing at that small airport. The one in Mound is can handle that traffic but the old airport? think about it.

  3. If we want economic growth we need a viable airport.

  4. I agree David.

  5. Since this old City Airport will not die, I felt compelled to set the record straight (again).
    Don Neumann

    October 13, 2008
    Mayor Leyens and City Alderman
    PO Box 150
    City of Vicksburg,
    Vicksburg, MS 39180

    Dear Sirs:

    I see that the issue of resurrecting the Vicksburg Municipal Airport has raised its unlikely head one more time. I am returning the planning materials that we used 20-years ago to arrive at the conclusion that this airport could never be anything more than a liability to the City and the Tax Payers. I was chairman of the Vicksburg-Warren Airport Authority. I studied these drawing for hours on end applying my dozen or more years of experience in Air Force airport operations and my several thousand hours of flight time for a solution.

    In addition, four of us concerned pilots took over operation of the airport in 1968 from Mr. Cappaert. He could not make it successful no matter how much money he threw at it.

    After 2 years and a loss of $95,000, we too hung it up as impossible. We lost our very capable and recognized maintenance facility to North Jackson with its much more traffic. The idea of an airport restaurant went out with the Charleston. At one time, VKS had commercial flights. It was a social center that included an airport Christmas party with over a hundred pilots from the area attending. Kids lined the fences on Sundays to watch the airplanes. The computer has killed this interest. The $6 per gallon for fuel has killed Sunday afternoon fun flying. There is no way that the City can resurrect and ride this dead horse.

    You do not seem to realize that this facility is totally out of compliance. It has no security and is a $10,000,000 liability to the City and the Tax payers. There is no way that a few hundred thousand dollars or even several million dollars will make this airport into a desirable, functional, successful, and safe operation. I am inclosing materials from the AOPA Airport Watch project for you to implement as one way to enhance some sort of much needed VKS security for the present.

    The lack of fencing makes it impossible to deny access to the aircraft on tie-down from those intent on stealing gasoline out of the quick drains on the aircraft fuel tanks. I experienced this 20-years ago when fuel prices were much less. Had I not been vigilant to this possibility, my airplane would have been nose down in an Alabama swamp on an early morning cross country to Florida. The kids using the one-mile long drag strip to race their cars at night poses another significant liability for the City.

    Fortunately the word is out on VKS. Most visitors now defer to VTR. A couple of Houston pilots wrote to Park Tour Guide Mrs. Betty Graham a letter some time ago expressing their unfavorable experiences at VKS.
    VKS has killed 11 people, mostly from crashing into the ever towering trees. The $10,000,000 is the going amount of the judgment that the City is certain to expect in the next accident. This is the amount that clever attorneys obtain from unknowing jurors. They seem to be able to do so even after the FAA has declared the source of the accident to clearly be “pilot error”. I am enclosing some of the FAA accident reports for your review so that you can get an idea of the dysfunctional and dangerous VKS operations that exist there.

    The good news is that VKS has and can expect to have virtually no traffic, now or anytime in the future. Letourneau lands there once a week, except when the weather is bad. Then, they wisely use the weather and landing system at VTR and borrow the courtesy car to drive to their Vicksburg plant. Lawson also does this. He also buys his gas at VTR because it is less expensive and more likely to be properly screened for water.

    VKS can never qualify for an approach system with less than 1,000 foot minimum decision altitude. The 604-foot smoke stack is one mile off the North end of the runway. The Cities 250-foot water tower is immediately East, the 200-foot hills to the South and 150-foot high trees everywhere. The existing Beacon was left there by Southern Airways 50 years ago. When it is operating, I know from personal experience that it is a temptation for landing pilots to use it improperly and unsafely.

    A jet departing to the North at 125 knots and climbing at 3,000 feet per minute has 15-seconds to clear the 604 foot smoke stack by 50-feet unless, of course, they are well aware of the obstacle and take evasive action. Where is the NOTAM that is required by the FAA to alert visiting pilots to this and the other VKS hazards?

    To clarify a point, the VKS was never approved or has received benefit of the FAA Airport Plan. Attempts to place it in the Plan for over 20-years were refuted by the influence of the Chamber of Commerce, who desired the land for an industrial park.

    VKS does not and can never qualify for funding from the FAA Plan. The Plan funds Feeder Airports that are geographically and strategically located. The FAA set the location of VTR to be exactly one-half way between Jackson and Monroe. While the politicians coerced the FAA managers to place VKS in the Plan, any attempt to get funding will bring the wrath of the nation down on Vicksburg from other small and more deserving community airports. This is not the find of public relations that Vicksburg needs. Incidentally, the Vicksburg citizens are sick of the VKS hanky-panky and the City’s continuing waste of precious tax dollars. This is likely to be an issue at the up coming election.

    I hope that you read this and find it of interest and helpful. Thank you.

    Encl:
    1. VKS airport drawings
    2. AOPA Airport Watch information.
    3. Some VKS crash information.

    D. L. Neumann, PE (retired)

  6. Don u just backed up those letters to the editor in the Post back in the ’90s about VKS and the difficulty of landing at this airport. Becouse they too mentioned the difficult landing approach.

  7. Wow, I am glad you didn’t tell us that we, the VKS airport board, of which I am a member, would never qualify for Federal funding before we actually got it. You do bring up some good points, many of which we are well aware of and have not hidden from.

    Are we aware of the “towering trees” yes we are, and we are doing something about it. I must admit that the vast majority (all but one) of the pilots I have spoken to about the issue have all said that the trees are not a problem unless you are not doing your job properly as a pilot. This is also the exact comment I get about the smokestack at Baxter Wilson.

    As far as the city’s “waste of tax dollars” I am glad to report that over the last three years the city has sent WAY more money to VTR that to VKS. The airport board never took a dime from the city until we were REPAID for some dirt work we did. So I guess they are much more busy wasting there money in Louisiana.

    BTW, the smokestack at Baxter Wilson is about 2.7 miles off the end of the runway, not 1. Does that mean the 15 seconds is actually 45? So that jet, climbing at 3000fpm will clear the stack by 1646 ft? Is that right? I’m sure you will check my math.

    I’ll return to continue my refutation of your, uh, tirade, later.

  8. Update, the smoke stack is actually 3.4 miles from the end of the runway, sorry I was a little short.

  9. LOL

    Don? Looks like you’ve been rather heartily beaten here. Any comments?

  10. Hmmm, I’ve read all this about the vks airport. I might as well add my 2cents. Every town that has lost their airport has died. Vks airport is very nice, I have flown in and out there for many years. I noticed the trees on the north end of the runway when i was dragging my plane in trying to make a short field landing to the south, but on a normal descent I wouldnt have noticed them at all. Its not the airport that brings in the money its the people that run their buisness there. I’ve seen dead airports with one good aircraft dealer make it a happening place. If you ask me all vicksburg airport needs is motivated individual’s to make something happen. Problem is the economy sucks. I’ve worked in the aviation buisness for over 30 yrs. I didnt know anything else. If I was in realistate for over 30 yrs. I would be a multi millionaire. I have a plane based at vks now. Its always been a love for aviation that keeps it going. I Hope we dont loose general aviation. but it looks grim, we are loosing everything.

  11. My problem with maintaining the airport is this: Is it economically feasible? I can see where it would be a benefit to local businessmen, but what is its contribution to the average citizen? If its not economically viable to the people who are paying for it (me and you), then I say, let the local business men pay for it, and lower my taxes with the savings.


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