On September 2, I felt like a proud new mom! I took part in a special day with the dedication of the Oscoda County Dennis Kaufmann Memorial Airport.
I’ve been working with the folks in Oscoda County for eight years on a multi-phase project to realize their goal of taking the small county-owned turf runway and turning it into a nationally recognized facility with a paved runway.
We started with a NPIAS (National Plan of Integrated Airports System) justification study in 2003. In 2004, the FAA acknowledged the study and included the airport in the NPIAS. Step one complete!
From there, we had to wait a year to become eligible for non-primary entitlement funds (NPEs). Once we had those available to us, we began the land acquisition necessary to provide for clear runway protection zones (RPZs). This took several years because we were working within a budget that included only the NPEs and appropriate state and local matching funds.
Next, we had to develop the design plans to take the existing turf runway to a paved, fully FAA-compliant runway at 3,000 feet.
Unfortunately, between our design phase and the actual construction that began in July of this year, a key part of our local team was lost when Dennis Kauffman, a former Oscoda County Commissioner who had led the charge to get the airport in the NPIAS, passed away last year.
It was with a heavy heart, but also a great sense of accomplishment and pride, that I was able to join more than 100 local residents in a dedication of the “new” airport that honors Dennis.
Aviation lost a great supporter with Dennis’ passing, but due to his diligent efforts, has gained a wonderful asset for the general aviation community.
Thank you, Dennis, for your foresight to see what the Oscoda County Airport could become and for letting me be part of that journey. Your hard work and support will not be forgotten!