Eric and Frank arrived a few minutes later. Marcy and I, along with the three of them went to the office for a private meeting. The big meeting table was covered with the latest drawings of the airport – our hanger and the terminal building. There were also several aerial photos of the property.
Frank and Eric went right to the print of the airport and studied it intensely.
“I see the rumors are true. You are building one heck of a private airport. You found all the loopholes and where there were none, invented a few. I am proud of you – a group of people after my own heart,” Frank said.
“You knew that our facility in Delaware has been compromised by aggressive development but not that we were looking for a new place to move operations. This place – surrounded on three sides by woods and then by thousands of acres of farm land that is in the conservation program – is a perfect choice for a private airport,” Frank added.
“Good runway length and width but needs to be thicker. Would you be interested in leasing the agency a few acres for a hanger and a building, for adequate compensation to make the changes we might need?” he asked. “There are a couple things that we would add, but they could be used by the tower for all flights.”
“I need to call Lorrie up here; the aviation department is her baby. She needs to be a part of the decision making process,” I replied. “Let me call the engineer to see what we would need to make the changes you want,” I replied.
Tony and Kathy were on their way to the office to add today’s productivity to the charts and graphs. While we were waiting Frank explained what he needed. He came prepared; he had a list from his people.
Then Eric spoke up, “The Island Airport investigation is coming to an end; it is going before a judge in 10 days. The county airport is going to lose the emergency assignment,” then he continued.
“We need an airport in this area for emergencies – your airport, even being private; will more than meet the requirements with some changes. You would receive annual DHS grants to help maintain equipment to the standards. The fines and restitution the county will have to pay I can redirect to this airport to offset the construction changes. Here is the list. You will need to be in the judge’s chambers when we negotiate the final settlement.”
Tony and Kathy knocked on the door and walked in.
“Tony, work up a price on changing the runways from 12 inches to 18 inches and add a duplicate of our hanger here with the addition of office space as shown on this drawing. Add a cross taxiway between the runways here, here and here,” as I handed them another drawing.
“Then figure the cost and add pads at the end of this runway for an ILS system on both ends. Add the cost for a pad over there to meet this spec drawing over there. (The hand scribbled notation said Doppler radar tower.) Also price and build a tower to the specs here on the spot you designated. Finally, increase the fuel farm to 150000 gallons and price emergency generators for all buildings and the fuel farm. The gentlemen are going to pick up the tab for part or all of it,” I said.
Tony looked at me, raised his eyebrows and said, “Wow, we will have to work that up tomorrow.”
Frank handed me a contract proposal for the hanger lease, “Have Jenny look this over – I think you will find the terms favorable.”
After Frank, Eric and Rodney left Tony said, “We can expand the ponds once more to get enough stone or just buy it if necessary. Eighteen inches with rebar will handle some big aircraft. I will get another Portland storage tank here to have enough on hand to do each pour. Timed deliver will do the rest. Changing the depth may speed things up. It is faster to dig it level than to fill and roll the dirt tight enough. It takes weeks of rain or water and rolling to get the base tight.”
Marcy and I looked over the contract Frank had left. The terms were more than favorable with a 25 year non-cancelable clause and a guaranteed end clean-up payment. The advance payment they were offering would pay for the hanger they wanted and most likely all of the additional concrete. The monthly payments would be made in one annual payment up front.
But then they wanted more than was discussed. They wanted the complete section between the two runways for security as noted and the ability to modify the hanger as needed without notification.
When manned, the tower crew would include one of their people, with a clause that they could man it 24 hours a day at their discretion. They also wanted the diner in the terminal tripled in size and opened 24/7 with one of their chefs – an unusual line of request, I thought – along with six meeting rooms in the terminal.
Marcy, Lorrie and I went back to the mats to finish tonight’s training and we worked them hard. Two more nights were all they had and we worked them hard and again for the next two nights.
Then it was over and they were gone to an unknown destination. I wished them all luck on the final nights and worried like a parent for their safety.
We signed the contracts with the two Federal agencies and then big US government checks were slid across the table. Then we signed more contracts for their hanger. The manufacturer was going to assemble them both at the same time. Marcy even got a better price from them – something about having the equipment on site. Then more contracts to build the terminal building.
The extra Portland tank arrived and was filled and the pads poured for the buildings. Six more inches of digging did not sound like much but it made the pile of fill dirt look like a mountain. I asked Tony, “What the hell we were going to do with all of it?”
“The secret is we only dug down 3 of the six inches and raised the height of all the concrete pours 3 – the pile of dirt will be gone when we slope everything to a final grade,” he told me.
The crop spraying was in full swing; they were starting early in the morning and flying all day. The Thrush was flying the long distance runs and the Stearman everything close. The diesel pickup now had a 110 gallon AV gas tank in the back to refuel the Stearman, another 110 of jet A for the Thrush and a flat bed trailer full of fifty five gallon drums of chemicals.
On the last day of July, Ty and Kathryn came into the gym while I was still there one late afternoon. As they walked by Ty gave me the thumbs up then said, “Don’t be surprised if all of you get invited to a no-name beer party in a few days.” And then it was August.
Edit by Alfmeister