From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 103, Number 18 - January 4, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Longer runway will increase payload capacity
Wenz Airfield expansion to compensate for thin air at airport’s high altitude
by Nikki Mann

At the special Airport Board meeting last Friday, three board members (enough for a quorum) and airport manager Jim Parker, reviewed another draft of the airport runway expansion and related construction projects via telephone conference with GDA Engineers of Cody.

The new runway expansion, which will add 1,800 feet of additional takeoff and landing space, will allow the current size of aircraft to takeoff with additional payload. Jim Berry explained the justification for the longer runway.

Wenz Field is located in a “high density altitude” , a term which can be confusing. Wenz field is located at a high altitude of 7,100 feet, where the air is less dense than at lower elevations. During the summer when the air temperatures reach in the 80’s and 90’s , the hot air becomes even less dense. This very thin air makes it much harder for aircraft to generate lift for take off on the present runway. To compensate for this “high density altitude” , or very thin air, pilots must reduce their payload by carrying less fuel, gear, or people.

The runway expansion is not intended to allow aircraft any bigger than the Gulfstream Five, which requires at least 5,150 feet of runway and can currently land at Wenz Field. The intention of the runway expansion, according to Berry, is to allow the size of aircraft currently using the airport, to be able to increase their payload to weights they could normally carry when landing at other airports.

Most of the details brought up at the teleconference involved relatively minor details of the 4.5 million dollar expansion and construction project.

The Airport Board members made sure that GDA was holding the construction company accountable for reclaiming anything they disturbed during construction. The area will be reseeded with a seed mix that will be drilled into the ground and is specifically selected because it will not attract birds. Birds are considered a serious aviation hazard.

The Board members also questioned GDA on the location of a temporary game fence that would also serve to keep construction workers and contractors out of the active operations area at the airfield. Jim Parker wanted to know if anyone had located buried cables for the airway and taxi lighting before the construction workers started drilling holes in the ground. No one had.

The GDA and Airport Board also worked out arrangements intended to protect the roadways from construction equipment, and protect passing vehicles from mud flung out of construction equipment tires. The construction company will be required to pay for any pavement road damage they inflict while crossing paved roads with their equipment. There will be two “vehicle tracking control stations” . In a nutshell, these stations are areas of gravel that the equipment will drive over to pull off mud and debris on the tires before they get onto the highway.

There are many provisions and designs for erosion control, however due to FAA regulations, many, if not all, of these erosion control objects will have to be removed before the airfield can be reopened. The construction project will have a direct effect on “nonjurisdictional wetlands” and a possible indirect effect on “jurisdictional wetlands” so erosion control and rehabilitation projects are important.

Other parts of the projects include demolishing and removing a house and its foundation , capping wells, removing other obstacles , and rerouting power and phone lines from underneath the runway.

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