By Joe Lewis - Staff Writer
Dec. 31, 2012 — Old utility poles lying across a runway at Matthew Sellers Field may pose a risk to pilots even though the city-owned airport was ordered to cease operations nearly four years ago.
Information obtained by the Journal-Times shows that the Olive Hill airport has not been properly decommissioned according to guidelines of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Sellers Field still appears on current aviation charts to which pilots have access when drafting flight plans.
Even though the airport is listed as “closed indefinitely” on these charts, that classification doesn’t necessarily mean that the runways are totally off-limits to air traffic.
“Indefinite closure means that the airport could be re-opened at a later date and pilots can still make emergency landings on these runways,” said Glenn Meade, incoming City Council member and former Army air traffic control technician.
Olive Hill City Council recently approved a resolution to set aside the airport property for the Trail Town initiative, a project aimed at revitalizing existing trails in the hopes of luring adventure tourists to Carter County.
The Trail Town planning committee has not yet finalized plans for use of the airport property but computer-generated mockups presented at a recent City Council meeting outlined several potential possibilities, including primitive camping and horse stalls.
The Journal-Times has determined that FAA regulations require written notice at least 90 days prior to closure of an existing airport.
Lisa Tolliver of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet advised the newspaper on Friday that required paperwork on closing the airport had not been submitted by the City of Olive Hill.