Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Updated: New Airport Grant Means Continued Military Training

Fairhope, Alabama

UPDATE: Mayor Kant told the Times later that there is still a stipulation that if the Airport Authority does not make payments on the loan for the 240 acres of land -- it would revert back to city ownership. This could affect the security arrangement for re-financing the debt. If we can find verifying documents we will post them here.

Navy officer addressing Airport Authority last year


The new $2.9 million Federal FAA grant just awarded to the Airport Authority to expand the airport's east side carries with it the usual strings of allowing the continued use of the airport for military T-6 flight training: the touch and go at the report itself and aerobatics training of new pilots in designated airspace sometimes over the city itself or major its neighborhoods (Rock Creek, Sandy Ford, etc).

This competitive AIP (Airport Improvement Program) grant will be used mostly for ground preparation and drainage work.

A 5% match from the Airport Authority will be required of about $145K

The Times receives numerous complaints/inquiries about "noise" from the training on both sides of the issue: some are annoyed by the nuisance of the loud drone constantly over their neighborhoods while others see it as patriotic to support the practice which has been going on since the area was mostly-rural in the 1940's -- and has always been tolerated here.

Some worry about possible plane crashes as well (see below); and are reluctant to speak out because of public ridicule.

According to military spokesmen, many Navy and Marine recruit-pilots receive their first training here (based in Pensacola) and the Mobile Bay coastline makes an ideal setting for proper orientation for new pilots: throttle cuts back and stalls are also practiced accounting for changes in the pitch of sounds.

Additionally, new pilots from allied nations (Israel, Saudi Arabia, etc) are also trained here.

(Supplemental Coast Guard and Air Force training is also conducted here.)

Recently, congressman Byrne has been involved in negotiations to move the aerobics training to less populated areas but the bureaucracy moves slowly we are told.

President Obama has also been informed of the issue, according to some involved.

T 6 Navy trainer

While the Airport is run by the city's independent Airport Authority, it is heavily subsidized by city taxpayers to the tune of $35,666/month -- which is used to operate the airport and service its debt.

Besides grants, the AA receives income from fuel sales, leases of hangars and other space it owns at the airport.

Total airport revenue for the month of August 2016 was $49K -- but expenses were $102K for a deficit of (-)$81K.

The Authority's attorney, Josh Myrick of the Stankoski/Myrick firm, has charged fees of  over $16K so far this year.

Year to date, the Authority is in the red by (-)$361K, including a $285K debt principal payment.


The Airport Authority is considering seeking proposals to refinance its existing debt of $7.54 million over a seven year period: yearly principal payments would be from $200 - 300K over that period.

A proposed balloon payment of $5.8 million would occur in 2023.

Security is to be the 240 acres of land the AA owns there, intended for use as an Industrial Park.

The land was purchased for the airport by the city in 2007: originally the land was to revert back to the city after five years if the AA was not self supporting by then; but in 2011 the city council decided to deed the land permanently.

Airport Authority members are appointed by the city council to four year terms.

Air Force T6


Anonymous said...

Fairhope's airport is run 100% for the benefit of a few wealthy individuals some of whom do not even live in Fairhope. The airport board has been set up to protect those private interests and does their bidding. The last thing citizens of Fairhope need is an expanded larger airport and more airplane noise and traffic but we are getting it anyway.

Anonymous said...

Uh, the federal grants are our tax dollar too remember .

Elwood said...

Just rename the airport...Fairhope Naval and Coast Guard Aviation Training Center.

Mark said...

Well, there you go. All you "pro development" and "build build build" folks got what they wanted. You wanted to build these big mansions and elite subdivisions to attract the rich and affluent folks and you got them. Now they need somewhere for their toys. Enjoy.

interested in the people and quality growth said...

To the citizens of Fairhope and surrounding area, why not just give the FFA back their $2.9 million and learn how to operate a different type of business with in some means.

Faithope airport wants to be big in growth for what reason ? Be bigshots ?

You are running the airport like the US government -borrow , spend, borrow, spend always with someone else pulling your strings.

You are forgetting about the people that make up the area.

The military reminds me of someone that lets their dog crap in your yard while there is a dog park across the street !!

Same on you city council and airport borad !


Anonymous said...

Complete waste of our taxdollars. Should be spent on road improvements instead.

Suzee said...

I would like a list of the names, contact numbers, and email addresses for the Airport Authority.
And I will be getting the same of the City Council and the new major as soon as this election today is over and the new administration takes office.