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Closing of Joplin Regional Airport runway 05/23 causes concern for some pilots

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In the new 20-year master plan for the Joplin Regional Airport, there is one element causing some pilots concern: the closing of runway 05/23. Those who fly light sport air crafts say this runway provides a safe option for when there are strong crosswinds. two local pilots say removing it could have negative effects.

In Joplin, Justine Winkler's preferred runway is 05/23. It's the safest option, she says, for professionals and students flying light sport air crafts.

"It's important to have a runway that's usable in accordance to the directional wind changes."

veteran pilot and instructor mark Ingram says he relies on the runway. He recalls one day it was closed and how it affected his flight.

"We were just grounded, because the cross wind runway, there was no way that could have been used safely with the lighter airplanes," said Ingram.

Winkler and Ingram say the closing of 05/23 would also have a bad economical impact, as many pilots are choosing to fly smaller aircrafts because they are less expensive to operate.

"If there's a large movement into these type of airplanes, than we want to have a runway that's available for people who want to come in to use the airport, to pay for the airport," said Winkler.

Airport manager Steve Stockam says he has explored many options to save the runway. But he says in working with the f-a-a, it was sighted to have problems in relation to the overall geometry of the airport.

"We have to go through the analysis and looking at the facility, the value of that little crosswind runway does not compete very well with the others," said Stockam.

"There, I think, are alternatives that could be made to work with that to keep the runway going," said Ingram. "Because it costs a lot of money to build it and it will cost a significant amount of local taxpayer money to remove it."

Steve Stockam says he does not know when the removal of runway five two three will happen. In the meantime, he says, the airport will keep it open.

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