The 2009 AAA/APM Fly-in has come and gone, and though we are still accessing all the facts and figures, it appears by any indicator to have been another great success. From the weather, to the number of airplanes and people, it was a safe enjoyable event with lots of flying, fun and fellowship.
While it may appear to the casual and long term attendee alike that our volunteer's efforts provide a smooth running seamless event, there are always problems before, during and after the fly-in that challenge and tax our abilities. Some of those problems are simply due to the laws of probability. One simply can not put that many people, planes etc. in one spot at one time and not have "issues". We here at the AAA/APM strive to keep these problems to a minimum and feel that we do a good job as indicated by the positive feedback we receive as well as by the continued increased attendance over the last several years. Simply put, we must be doing something right!!
However this year we seem to have a created a controversy that threatens to slow the progress of the APM Restoration Center. That controversy is over the location where this facility is to be built. Following then is a factual attempt at explaining why the APM Restoration Center is to be constructed on the same location as the old motor pool, which was adjacent to both the APM storage hangar and the Fly-Market/Bunkhouse.
We also hope this will answer those questions voiced by a few concerned individuals during the fly-in and stop the rumors that threaten positive progress for the APM and all those who continue to support it's programs and goals.
Before we get to the specifics about the future APM Restoration Center, we once again need to go over the makeup of Antique Airfield and whom owns what etc.
Antique Airfield is a privately owned, operated airport that receives no federal state or local monies. It is comprised of 177 acres near Blakesburg, Iowa owned by members of the Taylor family (Robert, Brent & Marcy Taylor, and Holly Beck) and the Air Power Museum Inc. The Taylor family (primarily Robert Taylor) collectively own 147 acres of the property that makes up Antique Airfield. The Air Power Museum Inc. owns the other 30 acres. The property line is basically the main driveway that runs E-W between AAA Headquarters and the Air Power Museum facilities. Property to the N of the driveway is owned by the Taylors and is zoned as commercial property, while the property to the S of that driveway is APM property and is tax exempt.
I point this out due to the one suggestion we heard, that an alternative to the chosen site for the APM Restoration Center be Hangar #2. Hangar #2 is N of the main driveway, ergo it is on property owned by Robert Taylor. There really is no sense nor advantage to either leasing that facility from Robert Taylor nor buying it outright. First off the APM's tax exempt status would not extend to that property and there would be a yearly tax liability (expense) to the APM due to that property being zoned as commercial property. There is no such tax liability on the APM's property, all of which is tax exempt. Secondly, if the APM Restoration Center were housed in Hangar #2, what would be done with the privately owned aircraft that are currently housed there? Also where would we house our fly-in catering service (Hy-Vee), as is presently done in that facility? These are just a few of several reasons that Hangar #2 is impractical for use as the APM Restoration Center.
The above western colloquialism certainly applies to our experience and ability at hosting fly-ins, large and small, here at Antique Airfield. We have been doing just that since 1970. In those past thirty nine years we have strived to manage and host events that are safe as well as fun. We believe our record stands for itself in that regard.
Therefore you can be certain that we would not build a structure that in any way compromises operational safety during the AAA/APM Fly-in nor any other events held here at Antique Airfield.
We did not make the decision to place the APM Restoration Center on the site of the former motor pool lightly. There was a lot of discussion at APM Board meetings over the last year. As part of those discussions, photographs, measurements, elevations, and alternative locations were gone over time and time again. But this project needed to move forward or risk paralysis by analysis. So decisions were made by the APM Board and we are now well down the path to turn this wonderful idea into a reality.
Perhaps as we began to structure the program to promote and construct this facility we should have been more aware of people's potential concerns as to the location of the APM Restoration Center. Frankly, we didn’t see that coming. Had we been better prepared at the fly-in to explain how this structure can be built while maintaining, and possibly even increasing, our margin of safety for operation into and out of Antique Airfield, we would not find ourselves in a defensive position now working against rumors. We'd like to let the facts shown below speak for themselves.
So if you have followed along to this point, we will show you that the building of the APM Restoration Center will not adversely affect the operation and safety of aircraft and pilots into and out of Antique Airfield.
From an operational standpoint the bottle neck or choke point of all flight line operations is at the corner of the APM's Main Museum hangar. From the corner of that hangar to the edge of the runway is 63 ft. The corner of that building is also the halfway mark for the N-S runway, as well as the blind spot for access to the S end of the runway or adjacent taxiway.
Satellite photo of Antique Airfield runway clearance with old Motor Pool structure
The location of the future APM Restoration Center will be on the site of the former motor pool. That structure was in place from at least 1993 until it was razed earlier this year to make room for the APM Restoration Center. The NW corner of that structure was always 60 ft from the edge of the N-S runway (see satellite image above). We operated for at least fifteen years with that structure in place with no problems or complaints about it being a hazard.
I should note here that a lot has been said about the operation of large aircraft (twins, tri-motors etc.) that have frequented Antique Airfield over the years and how the new structure will interfere with those operations. When those aircraft are taxiing, landing or taking off, we have always kept other aircraft from taxiing around the buildings or landing. Furthermore we taxi those large aircraft directly out and onto the runway until S of the fly-market where they can safely access the taxiway. This method of handling these large aircraft has worked throughout the years and there is no reason to believe that the building of the APM Restoration Center will change that.
Back to the Restoration Center: The old motor pool was a 60 x 30 ft structure. The new APM Restoration Center will be a 68 x 40 ft structure. Therefore the new structure will extend ten feet further to the west (towards the runway) than the structure most have taxied by unnoticed for at least the last fifteen years.
To compensate for that loss of ten feet we plan to do the following: First move the north end of the runway to the east ten ft while simultaneously moving the south end of the runway to the west ten ft. At the point of closest approach to the restoration center, this yields two feet of clearance. Second, shift the whole runway to the west by ten ft, resulting in a cumulative gain of 12ft. There is a third option to gain yet more room that we may give consideration to in the future as well.
Satellite Photo with relocated runway and building clearances marked.
So by adjusting the runway per the two items above we will then get the following clearances:
- From the APM Main Museum hangar to the runway edge, clearance will increase from the current 63 ft to 74 ft.
- From the NW corner of the APM Restoration Center to the runway edge, clearance will increase from 60 ft to 62 ft.
It should be noted that moving the runway here at Antique Airfield is a simple operation involving moving the marker cones and mowing the area affected.
So I hope you can see from above that the APM Board has carefully considered the impact this facility will have on our operations and made their decisions based on consideration of all options available before going ahead with this project.
As donations to this project have rolled in we have received many positive comments as well. For instance:
- "I want to become an Antique Airfield Ambassador and 'Buy a Foot' to help build the APM Restoration and Maintenance Center" Ed Wegner Plymouth, WI
- "Can't wait to see my new 'real estate'. Great idea !" Rosemary Duckworth Alma, MI
- "Love the project" Addison Pemberton, Spokane, WA
- "The APM Restoration Center is the next logical step after the completion of the beautiful new Library of Flight. As important as having museum aircraft to begin with is having a good facility for their restoration, maintenance and repair. The AAA/APM has always been about the preservation and maintenance of antique aircraft. This new multi-use facility is an important part of that ongoing effort." Greg Herrick, Minneapolis, MN
So we hope that the above explanations may inform and encourage you enough to join with those individuals, AAA chapters and corporations that have donated or pledged nearly $28,000.00 dollars to this project to date.
Treasurer Air Power Museum