As Paul Smith said: “The sheer stupidity of the District’s decision to permanently close runway 09/27 despite consistent, overwhelming opposition from many qualified and credible sources is shocking.”
Paul Smith of Gravenhurst spent decades in the field of aviation working for Transport Canada and NAV Canada.
Sheer stupidity is an understatement.
It is documented the entire range of pilots from small aircraft to airliners are objecting to the District’s foolish mistake to close the grass runway.
Also objecting are those that are not pilots but very familiar with airports and aviation.
The latest “Consultant Clark Norton of Tetra Tech said it is possible to make the hangar smaller and move it to the west side of the airport to preserve 09-27 — but this is not the airport’s desire.”
In fact, putting large hangars to the west of the existing large hangar at the south end, preserving the existing grass runaway, was proposed to Council by Ron Brent in 2011 and by myself in Oct 2020.
See pictures from his presentation below.
Simply put development where it doesn’t affect runways.
No million dollar, vastly inferior alternate runway needed at all.
The airport’s decision to ignore this solution, as confirmed by the latest consultant, is clearly a massive million dollar mistake.
Actually tens of millions of dollars per year loss when you consider Council mistakenly decided to eliminate the future expansion, usability and safety of the airport.
Pilots were not allowed this time to debunk the latest reports from the airport and present practical, inexpensive, solutions like this.
Ron Brent is a very experienced pilot and aircraft owner and owns and operates many grass and gravel airstrips.
He made a delegation to Council in Jan 2021 to keep the grass runway open.
He told council about the aircraft accidents that have already occurred as a result of closing the grass runway and why the reason for closure is invalid according to Transport Canada.
In fact there never was a valid reason to close the grass runway and there is no valid reason it has been closed ever since.
Simply a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) for a rough strip is needed to reopen it just as it was in 2019. Nothing has changed.
Ron stated during his presentation.
The grass runway “saved my bacon many times.”
Suddenly after 80 years airport management said it needs to be crowned?
Nonsense. It sits on a well drained gravel deposit.
“It’s not necessary to spend that money. It’s a waste.”
“Tony White (previous Commissioner of Engineering for the District) said my plan made the most amount of sense.”
Local pilots and others have made many delegations, letters and powerpoints to Council and even an inflight video comparing the existing grass runway to the vastly inferior, million dollar one Council approved.
Why no response? A councillor recommended ignoring aviation experts because they are not paid by the District and are negative on the latest plan.
Now the District is not only ignoring aviation experts they are also ignoring the latest consultant as well who agreed the grass runway could be preserved simply by putting the tenant’s new hangar beside the runway instead of on top of it as Ron Brent suggested in 2011.
A previous consultant recommended preserving the “key asset” grass runway. A previous council agreed and it has been protected ever since. Until the latest mistake by the latest Council.
In Jan 2021 I presented a few facts to District Council including comparing Peterborough airport to Muskoka airport.
Peterborough extended and paved their 09-27 prevailing wind runway and has 5X+ the aircraft movements including a very busy flight school.
$103 million benefit per year to Peterborough area instead of Muskoka at only $40 million.
Peterborough has charter flights south with 737s periodically. No reason to drive to Toronto airport for those.
District Council just eliminated that possibility here.
Pilots have advocated for extending and paving Muskoka’s 09-27 prevailing wind runway for many years.
Instead current airport management convinced Council to go backwards and close, rather than preserve then extend and pave 09-27.
All based on false information presented by current airport management.
Clearly current airport management is the problem.
False descriptions of the accidents, including an earlier fatal accident were presented to council by the current airport management.
Correct descriptions of the 3 accidents, as a result of the closure of the grass runway and the grass area beside the main runway pilots also use, directly from the pilots involved were presented to Council.
The next accident could be fatal to pilots and passengers.
Clearly safety is NOT the top priority of current airport management.
I believe in other organizations there would be consequences to those presenting false information to Council resulting in a massive million dollar mistake.
In Muskoka they are rewarded.
It is documented that Transport Canada, the Transportation Safety Board (they investigate accidents like the fatal one at Muskoka), Cessna (aircraft manufacturer) and local pilots have all thoroughly debunked the false information presented to council from the current airport management.
It’s never too late to do the right thing and correct a massive mistake.
Muskoka pilot and retired Professional Engineer