The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 28, 2012

Woodward told to remove gun range near airport

From The Associated Press

WOODWARD — The city of Woodward has been told by the Federal Aviation Administration to remove a gun range that is about one-half mile from the start of the runway at West Woodward Airport.

The Oklahoman reported a letter from FAA compliance manager Edward Chambers to Woodward Mayor Roscoe Hill said the outdoor trap shooting range is in line with the approach to one runway and in the air traffic pattern of another.

The letter said the FAA objected in 1989 to the proposal to put the gun range on airport land.

"Apparently, the city did it anyway," the letter said. "This use cannot be excused."

City Manager Alan Riffel said the gun range has been there about 20 years and is seldom used.

"Obviously, we'll comply with the directions of the FAA," Riffel said.

Airport manager Rory Hicks said airplanes are typically flying at an altitude of anywhere from 20 feet to 800 feet when they pass directly over the gun range, depending on whether they are coming in for landings or in air traffic patterns.

Hicks said he didn't normally give the gun range a lot of thought when landing, but "occasionally I would look down and think, 'What if?'"

"There's always the possibility of something happening," he said.

The airport does not have airline service, but Hicks said it's not unusual for more than 100 planes to fly in and out of the airport in a month, including a number of executive jets and oil company jets.

The airport is busy because of booms in wind energy and oil industries, he said.

The FAA letter called for the gun range to be removed within three months.