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McVille Airport to temporarily close

| Saturday, Sept. 1, 2007

McVille Airport, known officially as Armstrong Aviation, was one of 27 airports in the state to receive a share of nearly $4 million in PennDOT grant funding to improve safety and upgrade facilities.

However, McVille Airport co-owner Tom Kijowski said the county's only airport is slated for a two- to three-year shutdown beginning around the end of the month.

Kijowski said McVille's share of the state grant, $18,750, will be used for layout configuration for new runways and lighting and instrument approach systems. The total grant amount was $25,000 but called for Armstrong Aviation to kick in $6,250.

Plans for what will be a totally new airport are being drafted by Lee Simpson Associates, an engineering firm in DuBois.

In the meantime, however, Kijowski said the present airport will shut down while a strip mining operation for coal takes place. Kijowski said the mining operation is being conducted by the State Industries Co. of Armstrong County.

He said there are coal reserves under the present grass landing and taxi strips. When the airport reopens, the runway and taxi strips will be restored to a slightly higher elevation.

"We're in the process now of moving out more than 60 planes to other airports in a number of surrounding counties," Kijowski said.

He said the main hanger and office will stay where it is, but six rows of eight to 10 hangers each that will be torn down to allow for the coal mining.

Kijowski said Armstrong Aviation, Armstrong Aviation's Flight Training School and the company's charter service, however, will be relocated to Rock Airport in West Deer.

"Rock Airport offers a 3,500-foot runway and is considerably larger than McVille," Kijowski said, "so we're pleased with our new temporary facilities."

When McVille reopens in 2010 or 2011, plans call for a 3,000- to 3,200-foot runway, among other improvements. The new runway will not only be longer but will be moved slightly. It also will have better lighting and instrument approach equipment.

"We'll reopen bigger and better, but it will take about two to three years," Kijowski said.

Kijowski owns the airport with his brother, Ted. The 100-acre airport was founded by the brothers' father, Louis, in 1949.

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