City qualifies for airport grant

The Kansas Department of Transportation has approved Hillsboro’s application for grant money that will fund the next phase of improvements at the city’s airport.

Approval of the $63,000 grant, which was formally confirmed last week, will pay for 90 percent of the cost to install new radio-controlled runway lights and a two-box precision approach path indicator, or PAPI.

The City of Hillsboro will pay the remaining 10 percent of the project.

“It’s a major improvement for the city and the county,” said Terry Hagen, chair of the Hillsboro Airport Board.

“With the new runway and the improvements made on the runway, the lights we’ve got now definitely needed to be improved,” he added. “There was no radio-controlled pilot input on the lights, either. The lights are either on or off.”

Hagen said the new system, which will be the only one of its kind in the county, will help any pilot land an airplane more safely at night. The intensity of the lights can be adjusted from the pilot’s seat.

“If LifeWatch or EagleMed are coming in from Wichita, they’re going to do a straight-in from the south,” Hagen said. “This will enable them to click the microphone three times and it will bring up the lights and the two-box PAPI.

“The PAPI will enable an aircraft coming into Hillsboro with the intention of landing to see lights that will set him on a predetermined flight path all the way down to the ground,” he added. “The precision approach will put you on the right glide from eight miles out. It’s a safety issue.”

The grant money will become available for the project after July 1, 2002, and must be used by June 30, 2003.

KDOT did not provide funding for the helipad and heliport the board had requested.

“You basically put in your wish list and requests,” Hagen said of the application process. “They will look at your facility and give you what they think you should have.

“The heliport and helipad are things we do want to pursue. We’ll put in for that in the next go-around for grants.”

Hagen said he was pleased with the amount of funding the city has received over the past two years.

“These improvements that have been made at the airport obviously are very expensive,” he said. “Without this grant money, it absolutely would not have happened.”

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