Dogfight in the air over airport
By Adam Hicks
Of the 44 hectares mowed by Bob Maiden for seven years, there is a 300-metre stretch that flyers believe will 'ground' Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome.
Mr Maiden was among 50 aerodrome committee members and disgruntled locals who met in protest yesterday against what they believe is a scheme to sell off the aerodrome land as housing blocks.
The Richmond Valley Council's draft management plan for the aerodrome includes a proposition to cease maintenance on 300 metres of the main runway.
The council's general manager, Brian Wilkinson, said it wanted to keep the aerodrome open and the management plan would ensure its future.
But Mr Maiden, who has been flying out of Evans Head for 15 years, said a lack of maintenance would make the aerodrome unsuitable for all but a few aircraft.
"They (council) are getting in the back door and trying to kill it," Mr Maiden said.
He said a shortened runway would end the Evans Head Fly-In because the event's feature planes could not land.
But Mr Wilkinson said the stretch of runway was barely used and did not justify upkeep costs.
"It's a maintenance issue. Why maintain something that's hardly used?" he said.
Committee president Richard Gates said the council was trying to cash in on the aerodrome.
"This is a smokescreen to try and close down the aerodrome for real estate development," he said.
Mr Wilkinson said the council was not trying to close the aerodrome and did not plan to sell it off.
n The issue will be discussed at the aerodrome committee meeting at 7pm, Wednesday, in Evans Head RSL, and at the council's public meeting at 6.30pm Thursday, in Evans Head RSL.