Representative Larry Kissell (NC-08) joined local residents and officials for the ribbon-cutting celebrating the opening of the recently refurbished and improved runway at Laurinburg-Maxton Airport on Saturday. The airport's main runway, Runway 5-23, was improved to allow for larger aircraft to land at the airport.
Kissell has repeatedly advocated for funding to repair and improve the runway, including submitting an appropriations request to fund the project and calling on then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates to advocate for military funding. Recently, Kissell met with commanders from Pope Field to discuss military efforts there, as well as the expansion of efforts once the runway was improved.
"The completion of the main runway here is a wonderful opportunity for all involved: the airport, our community and our military," said Kissell. "Local businesses and the men and women of our armed forces have helped serve as the backbone of our economy, and these improvements will only increase the potential for further success for all involved. With the improvements made, as well as additional ongoing and upcoming projects to expand services here at Laurinburg-Maxton, we can help lead the way in making this airport even more of an economic engine for Scotland and Robeson Counties and the entire region."
The projected, completed in late 2011, will allow the runway to now support a landing weight capacity of 256,000 pounds per tandem axle, more than the 60,000 pounds it was previously able to allow. Jo Ann Gentry, Executive Director of the airport, thanked Kissell for taking part in the event and for his continued support of the facility over the years.
"Congressman Kissell loves this airport and we are so very grateful that he was here to speak and help out with the runway opening," said Gentry. "It was a wonderful event that provided a great opportunity for fellowship. We are very appreciative of Congressman Kissell's support over the years, and he is welcomed here anytime."
During the event, officials from the airport showcased upcoming projects, including a taxiway design, hangar design and an airport layout plan update. Following the ribbon cutting, members of the Golden Knights Parachute Team conducted a demonstration for those gathered at the event, conducting a jump and landing at the airport.
"What better way to mark the opening of this completed project than by having our brave Golden Knights drop in on us," added Kissell. "As a member of the House Armed Service Committee, I'll continue to work to further develop the important relationship between our military and the Laurinburg-Maxton Airport."