Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

July 16, 2014

Grissom runway reopens after 45-day closure

Military aircraft return to base from temporary relocation in Ohio.

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE — Business is back to normal at Grissom Air Reserve Base after its runway reopened Wednesday.

The base closed the more than 2-mile long airstrip on June 1 to complete a $3.2 million project that added and replaced expansion joints.

Military aircraft began returning to the base at 10:30 a.m. after spending 45 days operating from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, where 15 of Grissom’s KC-135R Stratotanker refueling planes were located during the runway closure.

“Thanks to the hard work of the entire construction team, the runway project was completed on time,” said Col. Doug Schwartz, 434th Air Refueling Wing commander. “We are extremely excited to welcome our KC-135s back to Grissom as we resume normal operations.”

It wasn’t only Grissom getting back to normal Wednesday.

Two commercial jets were the first to land on the newly opened runway, where they were taxied to Dean Baldwin Painting, an airplane-painting company that opened last year inside a renovated hangar near the base.

The company was unable to take in commercial airplanes while crews repaired the runway, and laid off 13 employees and cut back hours for the remaining workers during the closure.

A small, two-engine plane also landed on the runway Wednesday to be serviced by Montgomery Aviation Inc., which offers maintenance, de-icing and fueling services.

“It’s nice to hear engine noise out here at Grissom again,” said Jim Tidd, executive director of the Miami County Economic Development Authority. “It’s been silent for 45 days.”

Tidd said construction crews worked hard to complete the runway project on time, despite sometimes nasty weather.

He thanked the base for consolidating parts of the project to shorten the time the runway was closed from 90 to 45 days to accommodate both the civilian and military operations that use the airstrip.

“I can’t say enough thanks to the 434th,” he said.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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