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Presuming there is some resolution to the COVID-19 pandemic spread this summer, it could mean Chaffee County residents and visitors will have the opportunity to again enjoy an air show at Harriet Alexander Field, Salida Airport.

One of the multi-passenger turboprop planes owned by Colorado by Air charter service at Salida Airport. Photo by Dan Smith.

The Salida Airport Advisory Committee this week heard updates from Airport Manager Zech Papp that preliminary inquiries have resulted in an “air boss” being identified for running the show and a generous local supporter will shoulder the estimated $1,500 cost.

Planning will now focus on insurance for the event as well as which air show acts will be signed. City and county funds have been earmarked for some show operating costs, Papp said, but local fundraising will be required to pay the participants in the show, he said.

The event is tentatively planned for the airfield on Saturday, June 26.

It is unclear because of the ongoing pandemic whether a traditional civic group-sponsored pancake breakfast will be able to be included in the event, which in the past has also included an antique/classic car exhibition.

The board also reviewed the language for the new Airport Overlay Plan regarding potential development within the airport overlay protection and transitional zones for areas surrounding Harriet Alexander Field.

In a meeting last month, the advisory board moved to suggest revised language in the airport master plan regarding development around the airport property. It also moved to forward the new suggested revisions to the Chaffee County Planning Commission for review under the Land Use Code.

Developers and residents with holdings in the area, including Walt Harder, Dave Brown, and Tim Glenn have appealed for a change from the suggested five-acre per residential unit to the same two-acre residential parcels currently in the county comprehensive plan. Review of the county’s land-use code is currently in progress, as the next step following the adoption last fall of a new Chaffee County Comprehensive Plan.

Airports all across the country continue to struggle to maintain safe zones around airports to reduce the safety risks from plane crashes, and residential complaints about noise, landing lights, and airfield safety zones for takeoffs and landings. Failure to create safe zones around airports can jeopardize their Federal Aviation Administration funding.

At the March 24 session, the board reviewed zoning change recommendations in reference to residential property within the airport protection zone as well as in the slightly broader ‘transitional zone’ surrounding the field.

Board member Patty Arthur, an attorney with much experience in aviation regulations, said the board should develop a list of adjacent property owners for the Federal Aviation Administration airport proximity waivers they will be required to sign, recognizing that air traffic noise and some property restrictions come with being near a public airport.

The recently relocated Salida Airport beacon tower. Dan Smith photo.

In a related action, the board heard from Papp that the airport beacon tower for night take-offs and landings, erected last month, now has power. Negotiations can begin with clients who may want to mount cell tower-type equipment on the tower. Interestingly, Papp said that the light was no more in service than he began fielding some complaints from nearby residents who said they could now see the relocated beacon from their homes.

He said one person actually asked if they could shut off the beacon at night.

Replacing the beacon light itself would be expensive Papp said, adding that some shielding could be explored.

Papp said he would also confer with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) on a future move of the antiquated airport automated weather system and whether CDOT might be a source of grant funds for a newer system.

Papp also reported progress with negotiations on contract language with clients who want to construct large hangar facilities at the field. If those come to fruition, Papp said the airport property would be fully developed.

Any future expansion for additional hangar space would probably have to include property acquisition.

Papp also reported to the committee on potential future access paving at the airport, from the currently unpaved east and west entrance gates to a short sub taxiway paving needed for new hangars.