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Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by wbarnhill, Mar 27, 2006.
Add cost of deer fence in S. TX.
I volunteer managed our city's local airstrip (0T3) for a few years (2600' x 75'). The city was hit and miss in keeping it mowed so I'd wind up mowing it just as often and the city did. I have a 5' deck ZTR that mows at 14mph. I could mow 3000' x 125' in a little over an hour. The taxiway was another 1500' x 90' plus the ramp area around the hangars.
I mowed the entire property a little about two hours.
Put a crown on it, keep it rolled and plant Bermuda (if it'll grow in your area) and you'll have a runway you can use in nearly all conditions. Bermuda keeps the surface firm and minimizes soft spots when it's been raining or going through freeze/thaw cycles. Normal grasses don't. Also, Bermuda has a shorter growing season and requires less cutting when active. It also grows sideways and heals itself which helps the runway remain smoother.
It's not the cost of building the airfield, it's the cost of maintaining the airfield.
I just had this discussion with a friend who is selling his private field.
Since he built it, he spends all his time, money and effort maintaining it. He never gets to fly anymore.
Before you start grading, look into those pesky goverment regulations:
- federal. If you register your strip with the feds and they find that it conflicts with something like an airway or approach airspace, they will give you a determination that your airport is 'objectionable'. I dont think they keep you from building it, but an 'objectionable' determination from the feds can have a negative effect on what you have to do on the state level.
- state. Most states in the middle dont involve themselves in the construction and permitting of private airports unless they are public-use. Others like MN have detailed regulations with different levels of rules for 'occasional landing strip' (less than 15 days/year) or 'private airports'. Some states require you to put the airport in with the feds first. In some places, the feds wont take a registration unless it has been cleared with the state first.
- county/zoning. I know my counties zoning ordinance in MD has rules about private use airports. The existing strips are grandfathered, but building a new one would require a special use permit and is only allowed on certain zoning classifications (Ag and residential conservation iirc).
- soil conservation/forest conservation/resource protection zones. Before you start grubbing, make sure you can do that. Rules are a lot more lenient if your property is a 'farm' and you are building a hay-field. . If you have any kind of vernal streams or seasonal wetlands on your property, make sure you fill them in and plaster them over before any busybody from the county can find them (one landowner I know got fined $60k for replacing a culvert that had been washed out with a larger one. it was found out when he cleared some trees on his land and the residential neighbors called the police that 'someone was cutting down their trees'). By the way how some of these regs are structured, you would think that 'silt' is the equivalent of nuclear waste.
So, if you are on your 1000 acre ranch in Montana or Texas, just get a Dozer and start digging. Nobody will care and if someone cares, they will ask whether they can use it when their brother in law with his 182 comes to visit. If you are on a 40acre parcel in SC with neighbors who moved there for the 'peace and quiet', you may have to jump through some hoops before you can saddle yourself with the work of maintaining a 15 acre turf field.
(Whatever you do, if you have to cut down trees and you are in a jurisdiction that requires a permit for cutting and grubbing, cut all of them the day you get your permit. Get a couple of crews for the cutting work, and if your permit says you can cut on 9/26/2013, all the trees have to come down between 4am and 11am on that very day. 9am is when the courthouse opens and 11am is when all your dumbass neighbors are back at your site with their emergency injunctions trying to stop you.)
You have a valid point. We spend a LOT of time (and money) mowing our runways, but we still enjoy mowing, and having two grass runways. Someday, we may have to make a choice....
I was wondering when you would show up on this one. Joe Areeda was a handy guy to have around, eh?
Joe was very handy. He experienced what it was like to spend more than two days at the farm...he got put to work.
Barb and I were talking about you tonight. We miss you...we need to fly to Texas to see you. Especially since we can't get you to fly to Missouri to see us.
I'm hard to trap for much of anything in this part of the country until October. We will be at Smith's place on Crawford County Lake #2 Oct 4 & 5. How's Tom doing?
Don't forget the cost of having an environmental impact report done....wait is it not in California?
You are correct about the government issue. You only need to file a notice to construct with the FAA. They will issue a determination as to whether they think it's a good idea and perhaps suggestions on what you can change, but it's not binding on you in the least. As noted, the worst thing they can do is list it as OBJECTIONABLE and refuse to list it in the charts/directories.
State and Local does vary greatly. A local pilot/developer was looking for some property in any of the Northern Virginia counties to develop into a residential airpark and could find ZERO that would be inclined to issue the necessary zoning to do so. Down in North Carolina it wasn't so bad, when you're fighting all the other zoning issues for doing a development, the runway isn't too big of an issue. I can tell you that getting approval to put the community boat slips which required dealing with the state DNR, FERC, and the power company was much more daunting.
As far as a private (single owner) strip goes, I'd be inclined to just consider it 2400 of lawn or whatever. (When we were clearing the site for our house, my wife said she wanted to cut down enough trees to have a lawn. I pointed out we had 3000' of lawn out there but she didn't go for that).
The key is to do this as part of a Ag operation. Make it look like a field, grow some alfalfa on it for a year or two, just completely avoid the words 'airport' and by god, dont put up a windsock land your airplane. Build a 'tractor shed' with a bifold door (no building permit required, it's for 'agricultural operations' you know). Then put in the irrigation and the bermuda grass and apply for the special use permit. Cite that you need the strip to host the aerial applicator to spray the rest of your property against cankerworms. It's all for the farm.....
What Ken sez about the G-v and $200/sq. Yard is about right The Mt. Hawley addition, 401 x 50 cost $925,000 !! Of course, the city always gets ripped off.....
This seems a little light to me. Of course, it depends on what you're really building. I took the 200/sq yd from our database of hundreds of runway construction projects around the country, but many of those are for major projects (the new south runway at Fort Lauderdale, for example) and small to medium commercial airports. So it would be overkill for a private strip with only a couple of piston singles. However, if you are really planning a fly in community, it may be worth your while to look into the runway design advisory circulars. There are a half dozen or more that spell out all the requirements you might have, depending on the size of the facility, location, and what kinds of aircraft you want to accommodate. Spruce Creek or Put in Bay?
I have good memories of spending the 4th of July at Uncle Fran's cabin on Farlington Lake. I wonder if that cabin is still there. I hope you guys have a great time.
Thanks for asking. He's doing great! Teaching ground school at PSU, works out 3 days a week, all his doctors say he is in good shape. We'll find out what the FAA says about all that after he sees Bruce in Peoria tomorrow.
Tom fixed my old John Deere tractor yesterday, so I'll be out mowing the runways this afternoon.
Barb and I may fly down your way sometime next month. I'll give a holler if we do.
Great news, tell him Hey. Y'all come now, y'hear?
LOL, the Ft Lauderdale project includes building the runway overpass over US1. An interesting development from that project is when they cleared the mangroves out, the monkeys moved up into our neighborhood.
Yeah, the amount of fill that thing requires is mindboggling.
6.5 million cubic yards of fill, 60-foot tall retaining walls, six bridges and four tunnels
Don't forget the pilings and columns more than I care to count.
I like that idea!
I could imagine buying 100 acres of dirt-cheap land zoned Agricultural somewhere in the middle of Colorado and doing that. I doubt grass would grow, however. Or it might take a lot of water, which might be a problem with well usage restrictions in Colorado. Maybe it could be considered a sod farm? LOL
I like this line of thinking...in a couple years, I might have to go looking for 100 acres in Park County.
There is a couple here in Island County that solved this problem by buying a Cessna 185 on floats and a house on the lake.
Now that's the right idea!
Are there any legal issues with making your own runway? Can you just land your plane on your property without any hassle form the local or fed guys?
Fed as in FAA? Yep, no worries, you can land anywhere you want. Local, depends on the locality. When I did mine on the ranch, no one gave a rat's ass.
The feds dont care. Problems, if any, are usually local.
If you are on less than 100acres, the next neighbor who can hear your plane is never more than 1/2 a mile away. In a bona-fide farming or ranching environment, neighbors rarely care about what you do with your land as long as you dont cut off their water or cause their land to flood. The problem is if you are doing this in an area populated by folks who moved there to 'enjoy the peace and quiet'.
My dream is to buy a piece of land when I'm older with a barn (hangar), airplane, and enough room to make my own grass strip. Now I just have to get a good enough flying job to make me some money.
Amusingly, there is a neighbor that has to drive around our runway to get to their house which is perhaps 200' off the centerline of the runway (but perhaps 100' lower in elevation). They didn't even know there was an airport there until we pointed it out to them. We try to maintain good relations with the neighbors off the airpark...invite them to our parties, etc... This includes the house that you are looking straight at when you take off (it's actually on an island in the middle of the lake). Turns out the guy likes airplanes...he's got a great view of them.
All this talk of private airstrips got me to Googling, and I ran across this page:
Note part of the entry for Haas:
CAUTION: Do not confuse the airstrip with a nearby paved, lighted runway that is more than 6,000 feet in length. This strip was built by a doctor and is protected by armed guards with orders to shoot trespassers.
I wasn't aware of the extension at FLL (Ft. Lauderdale) until it was mentioned on this thread. This is pretty crazy looking!
Yep, needed more and bigger runways to get all those people on their cruise ships. They have ruined this town turning it into a cruises ship port.
Regarding grass versus hard surface; it seems that there is a certain reluctance to operate off grass. For a personal strip, the $$$ make it close to a no brainer.
I've been operating off 3,300 of somewhat rough grass for over 15 years. It was really rough and bare when we first moved on to it but has constantly improved over the years. We now have a good head of a Bermuda mix now. Bermuda actually benefits from physical abuse as long as it gets water. With water it starts to climb walls. However, the grass benefited from the flight school operation moving out - even Bermuda can only take so much.
Aircraft: Not all aircraft can operate comfortably off less than smooth turf so choose your aircraft with that in mind. I first went with a Maule which is a great mudder. It gets off quickly even at gross and can be powered thru even the deepest muddy soft spot as long as you don't let it stop. When I decided to build a high speed cruiser, the Lancairs were quickly eliminated - they are intended for hard surfaces. The RVs quickly became a sweet spot - Van is a turf guy, even with the RV10, pants and all. Cessnas and 'Bos and Pipers all seem to work well. Fully loaded 140s on hot days struggle. Unmowed wet grass makes takeoff performance an issue. Of course, taildraggers thrive just because it's easier to keep 'em straight on grass than on hardscape. Choose your plane with the strip in mind.
Length and width: I would just add that runway end obstacles and slope have an enormous effect on effective length. We have trees at both ends and they significantly shorten our 3300'. Without trees, 2,000' would be more than enough. For a level runway, we used 10X the tree height to determine the touchdown point for off field glider landings. We have a slope that definitely influences TO and Landing directions and effective lengths. OTOH, A tree line on 1 or both sides is an asset, especially if continuous.
Some other stuff: Lights are a much bigger deal than I ever thought. I'd consider them mandatory no matter what your flying plans are. The same for fuel. Lacking either ends up being an unwanted burden on decision making.
Just some thoughts from another grass field user.
Where is this? I found your strip 2WY3, but looking at the aerial map, I don't see anything else 4 miles southeast... Or anywhere nearby, for that matter. It's not WY33 you're talking about, right?
Antelope Ranch is about 6 miles due south southeast. Not sure what the code is, but its paved and lighted. Seems like a potential contender.
That's the one I was talking about - WY33 = Antelope Run Ranch. But it's 12 miles nearly south, not 4 southeast as described, and it's on the chart whereas the one in the note on the link said it was uncharted.
Hey, this one's for sale! Don't bother building your own runway, just buy this one for a cool $14.9m (comes with a ranch too):
The cost of having your own runway is apparently $499,000
The property is on the market for 2 years. Also illustrates the problem of taking on that kind of project. Once you have built your 'dream home', the property is not available for anyone else to build their 'dream home'. In the property above, I wouldn't have built a combination of home/hangar but rather built the two separately. Sure, for a vacation place or if you dont have the real-estate, combining the two makes sense. But for a primary residence I wouldn't have gone that route.
What about paying to get an icao ? Register with FAA are there costs for this?
Are you talking about airport identifiers? A private use airport will get a four character identifier (STATE POSTAL CODE + 2 numbers) unless they meet the requirements for the three-letter identifier.
The rules for a three-letter identifier are that you need to have either ATC or a NAVAID on field, scheduled air carrier or military airlift service, or are airports of entry, Certain weather reporting (ASOS) qualifies you as well.
You can't "buy" your way into an identifier, and if you qualify, there's no cost anyhow.
Thanks for the info Ron.
Any idea how big his dozer was/what's necessary?
Can't help with cost to establish or pave, as 7MN3 has been here since 1978 and we only bought it in 2011, but there is nothing like having a runway for a back yard. We have about 2700 x 80, with power lines 400' from the north end. Previous owner had a Baron here, after owning a string of Bonanzas. We've had guests in everything from a Jabiru LSA to a Piaggio P.136. No issues with well maintained turf. Currently based planes are a C150, RV-10, and a Dakota. My friend with a Lancair won't land here, but most GA can. Mowing takes a couple hours once a week, using a 6' mower. Well worth it. Legality really comes down to state law and local zoning, so very location specific. For us, snow is the biggest problem. We don't have a way to remove it, so that means relocate the plane to another airport for winter, or don't fly for 3-4 months (or fly a super cub on skis, like another neighbor). My profile pic is our place, drop in any time after the snow melts for a visit, it's on the charts.