Aviation Advisory Committee (AAC)
September 17, 2014
The Aviation Advisory Committee met on the above date with the following members present: Ted Rhodes (District 1), Brian Watkins (District 3), Michael Wooley (District 4), Chip Mapoles (District 5), and Whiting Field representative Randy Roy. County staff present: County Administrator (Hunter Walker), County Assistant Engineer (Michael Schmidt), and Administrative Services Manager (Tammy Simmons).
Rhodes called the meeting to order at 5:00 p.m. The minutes of the May 21, 2014, meeting was approved unanimously.
Walker stated there is a lot of activity going on at the airport; both FBO’s have flight training programs, both are contractors with the Navy, the County is adding additional hangars and there are more tenants at the airport. The County has not received noise complaints recently and the County is unaware if the Navy is having problems with incursion into their airspace.
Roy stated the Navy is aware of the growth at Peter Prince Field; they were/are actively involved in the Peter Prince Master Plan with opportunity to provide comment. The biggest issue for the Military is the non-expansion of the runway; because of the conflict of the airspace and the overflight traffic they have in and out of the airfield. They are aware the introductory flight school, IFS, has increased. Roy was hopeful the FBO would be here today to express how many OPS they are increasing by and where their flight tracks are. Roy stated they are typically flying out of Peter Prince; and guessing they are doing some normal flights in and around, and some of the airman ship check boxes to see whether or not it is to the advantage to have this person come into the military program. I believe they are going down, going south, along the highway and going down toward the beach.
Roy stated the Joint Strike Fighter is here, it is out at Eglin and it is flying. The Joint Strike Fighter is flying at Choctaw a couple days a week based on availability of aircraft and some of their pilot syllabuses. As they ramp up we will see an increase in the Joint Strike Fighter operations day and night. Roy recommends, when the Navy component is more on board with their Joint Strike Fighter, we request a presentation to this committee to discuss their quotas, syllabi and flight patterns. The number of OPS that is enclosed in their environmental impact study is about 20,000 going to Choctaw.
Roy stated EMS is flying out of Peter Prince now with the goal of moving over to Avalon Boulevard with the Lifeguard Ambulance Service. The Navy is working with Lifeguard and Jason Kimbrell and his team on this topic. Lifeguard is going to give the Navy a heads up when they get closer to the move; when they are actually going to have the pavement, have all their studies in place, and have the component there instead of at Peter Prince. Once Life Flight moves to Avalon the Military will over fly the area where Life Flight will be. The two parties will discuss how the Navy flies and how Life Flight fly’s to make sure they are on the right frequencies. Roy stated the Navy does not have published routes; a lot of the routes you see flown here are VFR. We are about 900 – 1000 feet and follow certain routes in and out of the airfield design so we don’t mix the T6 and helicopter component.
Roy stated right now the T6 does a lot of daytime flying and the helicopters do a lot of day and night flying; however, in about a week there will be more operations in the air, the Navy will have a couple outlying fields open, they will be flying about 9 Saturdays in a row to catch up and get ahead.
Roy thanked Santa Rosa County and the other four (4) adjacent counties in Alabama and Florida stating the Navy could not do what they do without their relationship with these Counties. The Navy is doing about 1.1 – 1.2 million operations a year. This year the Air Wing was asked to absorb Corpus Christi flying, pilot throughput is typically 600, this year they are going to do 750 which is the highest throughput in the last twelve (12) years at Whiting Field.
Roy stated field carrier landing practice takes place at Choctaw; it is lit to look like an aircraft carrier at night with very little population in and around the field, making for an easier transition. You will see some touch and go or some training called “simulated flame out” where they come from really high out, spin down and touch and go at the airfield. Choctaw won’t be an airfield where you see joint flight strikers landing and parking.
Roy suggested at the next meeting that we ask Greg Kesler to present GRASI - Landscape Initiative and the Blackwater River Forest projects specific to aviation and ask Jeff Fanto to present on their operations with the Joint Strike Fighter; how their mission is coming along and how it will affect this area.
Mapoles stated when Mr. Tidwell built J22; the original agreement was that the traffic pattern for J22 would be to the west and that the Rotor Wing would stay to the east at Spencerfield OLF; in the last couple of years the Rotor Wings has migrated to the west so we are dodging helicopters on departure and arrival. Roy stated he would relay that message.
Rhodes stated Peter Prince is exactly like J22, all the traffic patterns are over on the western side and we may want to engage with Whiting to see if they would open up a slice of airspace so we can do some work on the east side of the field. Roy stated we probably need to have a working session group with the FBO’s to look at the traffic patterns at Peter Prince Field. Roy believes Peter Prince has internal rules on how they segregate the traffic.
Wooley stated Trident Aircraft instructors are moving to Peter Prince.
Rhodes stated it would be good to take tours of both FBO facilities and discuss any concerns they may have and their future plans.
Michael Schmidt stated the County currently has two projects going on at Peter Prince: a $941,200 - 15 unit T-hangar project, the footings are being dug now, they are about 15% complete and the project completion date is in the middle of November; and a $457,000 east Apron Rehabilitation and expansion project, the tie down area is going to be milled and resurfaced and we are going to mirror what is on the north side to the south side so it will be symmetric. Schmidt stated there will be no runway impacts.
Schmidt stated we are currently working that new Master Plan through FAA and FDOT for all future funding and grants, included in the plan is the runway rehabilitation, which is total milling, re-surfacing, and re-stripping. That is not going to be an easy thing to do, you are going to shut the runway down and it’s going to be an event, but that is in the future. The other two things we have is the Airport Minimum Standards and Airport Rules and Regulations which were approved by this Board and went to the BOCC, we have submitted them to FAA for comments and they are still there, and once we receive comments back we will bring them back to this Committee and go through them individually.
Walker requested the committee members recommend potential topics or subjects they would like to be involved in and suggest what would make their time here more productive and the schedule more responsible. Walker stated we hate to ask the members to come to make non-productive work.
Rhodes recommended quarterly meetings with the ability to call special meetings if something comes up that needs to be addressed. Walker stated we will start the quarterly meetings January 2015.
Walker stated FAA had sent out a draft policy on the non-aeronautical use of hangars, Walker will send to committee for review and discussion will take place at the January meeting.
Simmons stated the county currently has 100 hangars at Peter Prince Field; all hangars are occupied currently with 9 individuals on the hangar waiting list. Administrative Services will be conducting hangar inspections October/November 2014.
Walker stated the next meeting will be January 21, 2015.
Meeting adjourned at 5:35 p.m.