Drastic Changes Affect North Dakota Airports - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Drastic Changes Affect North Dakota Airports

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Governor Dalrymple has declared this aviation month across the state.

Marc Taylor has been flying since the 1970s and many of those flights have been in and out of the Mandan Municipal Airport.

"It's been a drastic change as far as the number of based airplanes. You can look at the hangar and see how many new hangars have been built. It's been a very interesting growth. It's actually surprising to us that we've seen this much growth," says Taylor.

And of course with more growth comes the need to expand.

"Last year we built a new, reconstructed our existing runway and that would be the biggest change I've seen. To completely redo basically our main street of the airport," says airport manager Jim Lawler.

But a budget proposal by President Obama has them concerned the runway could get less use.

"They included a $100 user fee and what that means is every time you go to fly, to take off and use the system you would have to pay $100," says Lawler.

Which might not seem like a lot until you consider that some pilots fly 20 or more loads of spray a day during the farming season. Which would cost them an additional $2,000.

"It will pretty much smother general aviation as we know it today," says Taylor. "It's not something that is going to happen overnight. But if it was to be put into affect I strongly believe you'll see probably a small percentage of the airplanes out here as compared to today."

According to the Alliance for Aviation Across America, general aviation in North Dakota contributes $131 million to the state's economy each year, with $4.5 million coming from the Mandan Municipal Airport.

Both Lawler and Taylor say they plan to discuss their concerns with North Dakota's Congressional delegation.

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