By Jeff Mullin, Senior Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Calling it the No. 1 prioritized project in the state, Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission on Thursday allotted $272,000 to the city of Enid to lengthen the main runway at Enid Woodring Regional Airport.
That leaves about $1.3 million yet to be funded, said Mike Cooper, OSMPC chairman and city of Enid military liaison. “We are working with all kinds of other sources,” to obtain additional funding for the project.
The latest award comes on the heels of the $260,000 the commission allotted last year for the Woodring runway project.
The total cost of the project is expected to be $5.8 million. The project will lengthen Woodring’s primary runway some 2,300 feet, to 8,000 feet.
The cost of the project includes extending the runway and a parallel taxiway, moving approach lights and equipment, and obtaining some 100 acres of land south of the airport.
T-6s and T-1s from Vance Air Force Base already use Woodring for regular operations, and often must be diverted to land there because of strong crosswinds or threatening storms. Lengthening the runway also would allow T-38s to land and take off there, not to mention other Air Force planes from other bases.
Currently, if Vance T-38s must be diverted, their closest landing fields are Tinker AFB, Tulsa International Airport, the former Clinton-Sherman AFB or Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, or, in case of emergency, Kegelman Auxiliary Field near Jet.
With a longer runway, other Air Education and Training Command bases could use Woodring as a destination for students and instructors conducting cross-country training flights on weekends.
“The key thing is it would not just allow them to land T-38s there and help increase mission capability, but it will help them reduce costs, which is important in this time of tight budgets and sequestration,” Cooper said. “It will be like having another runway over at Vance. It is a great project.”
The extended runway also would help Vance continue local operations while its outside runway is being replaced. That estimated $30 million replacement project is expected to begin in fiscal year 2015.
In addition, a longer runway would have economic development implications for Enid, since it would accommodate larger corporate jets and would make Woodring attractive to a potential return to commercial air service, not available locally since 2006. An 8,000-foot runway would be the longest in northwest Oklahoma.