There is a new layer of security at a North Texas airport. It is an issue that has put pilots and potential passengers at risk at the Graham Municipal Airport.
Wondering wildlife near the runways has been a huge problem in the past. Andy Wolfe, Graham's Director of Public Works, tells Newschannel 6 in the past five years there have been two separate incidents in which pilots hit deer landing planes on the runway. Nearly 20,000 feet of new fencing will put a stop to that.
The Graham Municipal Airport does not want anymore close calls on the runways, so the new eight foot fencing stretching around the perimeter went in to replace the old.
Andy Wolfe says, "The fence we had was inadequate and easily jumped by deer so they would end up with some deer out on the runway, posing a big hazard to airplanes."
Safety concerns were high after two planes nearly crashed while landing at night and hit a deer. No one was hurt but the airplanes had a lot of damage. Wolfe comments, "Nobody ever wants an accident out here at the airport. The biggest problem we have is with game and livestock. It is a security fence to keep them out."
But the new security fencing did not come cheap. Andy Wolfe says in total the project cost $184,387. All this was made possible after the City of Graham received funding from the Federal Aviation Administration. They covered 90 percent of the costs. TXDOT Aviation covered five percent and the city had to cover the remaining balance.
Once the project got underway construction lasted only four week and followed strict guidelines. Andy Wolfe says, "There is just a lot of safety concerns that your have to follow when you do anything with airports."
Wolfe also says the eight foot deer fencing along with the eight foot chain linked fencing will help keep everyone and everything safer. He adds, "It doesn't matter if you have just local flyers coming in or a commercial airline coming in, you never want to have an accident out on your runways. Whatever we can do to secure this area is what needs to be done."
City officials say the project is not completely done just yet. The main gate and the card access system needs to be put in along with the three side gates. They are expected to be put in within the next month.
Graham City Manager Larry Field tells Newschannel 6 the airport improvement plan has been in the works for about 15 years now. He says everyone was thrilled when the city got approved for the funding.