Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

May 15, 2014

Grissom air operations detouring to Ohio

$3.2-million construction project to close runway for 45 days

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE – Nearly all of Grissom’s air refueling aircrafts will ship out to an Air Force base in Ohio during a 45-day runway construction project at the base starting June 1.

Starting just after Memorial Day, the KC-135R Stratotanker planes at Grissom will begin transitioning to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to continue operations while the airstrip is under construction.

While at the Ohio base, the Airmen and aircrafts will continue normal operations, while non-flying operations will continue working at Grissom, said Col. Bryan Reinhart, 434th Air Refueling Wing commander.

“We’re just moving the aviation training and alert mission over to Ohio during the repairs so we don’t miss a beat,” he said.

The estimated $3.2-million construction project will install expansion joints on the more than 2-mile-long runway to prevent buckling from summer heat, said John Robison, 434th Civil Engineer Squadron chief engineer.

Two aviation businesses near the base that utilize the runway have said in a previous interview the construction project will hurt business.

Dean Baldwin Painting CEO Barbara Baldwin said her business, which began operating a year ago painting and serving airplanes inside a renovated airplane hangar, will likely have to reduce hours for the 135 employees who work there.

She said the company has already had to relocate seven painting jobs from the Peru facility due to the runway closure.

Officials with Montgomery Aviation Inc., which offers maintenance, de-icing and fueling services, also said business will suffer without civilian aircraft landing at the base for 45 days.

Col. Reinhart said the base consolidated parts of the project to shorten the time the runway was closed to accommodate both the civilian and military operations that use the airstrip.

“At the end of the day, these repairs are absolutely necessary and will benefit both military and civilian aviation for years to come,” he said.

The last time the base’s runway was closed for repairs was in 2004.

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

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