On May 20th, the Williamsport Regional Airport was receiving a very high-profile individual. The President was making his way to the Montoursville area; holding a rally where more than 15,000 people attended.
As final preparations were made prior to the POTUS’s visit, L.R. Kimball had two engineers on the scene. They were tasked with a final examination and analysis of the airport runway, taxiway, and surrounding area to ensure the utmost level of safety and security for the landing of Air Force One.
While examining the space, the first thing that needed to be assessed was the runway itself. Air Force One, a Boeing 747, is a larger and heavier aircraft than the Williamsport Airport was designed to routinely accommodate on the runway. Therefore, L.R. Kimball performed a load-bearing analysis of the runway to ensure it was safe for a one-time landing of an aircraft of this size.
Secondly, L.R. Kimball developed a runway profile that showed the grade and slope of the runway and provided the findings to the Presidential team. This ensured the pilots knew the exact specs of the runway for a safe and secure landing, with no surprises.
Lastly, L.R. Kimball has designed, and is now managing, a Taxiway reconstruction project at the airport. This type of construction activity needed to be halted for this presidential visit. L.R. Kimball requested that the contractor remove all equipment to an off-site location and clear the airfield of any FOD (Foreign Object Debris) that could potentially cause damage to an aircraft. Also, due to the closure of the taxiway for reconstruction, after landing, Air Force One had to back-taxi on the runway.
In addition to the other measures listed above, normally we would need to conduct an Airspace Case for the FAA to grant approval to land the aircraft. However, because the landing plane was Air Force One, this wasn’t needed as the aircraft already had FAA approval to land.
Preparing for an Air Force One landing is obviously something that is not taken lightly, and, after a thorough review and coordination effort, the Williamsport Regional Airport was more than ready for the arrival of our President.
By: Vince DeCario, PE