Airports selected as best in state Regional airfield, Clearview rate high in safety inspections

July 18, 1996|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

Two Carroll airports received top awards yesterday for their contributions to the state aviation industry at the first Maryland Aviation Summit Conference.

Carroll County Regional Airport in Westminster was named the best publicly owned airport in the state, and Clearview Airport, a small facility south of Westminster, was recognized as the best privately owned Maryland airport.

The daylong conference, held at Baltimore-Washington International Airport and sponsored by the Maryland Aviation Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration, included workshops on aviation issues and honored excellence in airport management, flight instruction, aviation maintenance and other areas.

"I think it's very important that of the two airport awards, both of them came to Carroll County -- the odds against it are pretty high," said Lowell C. Seal, who owns Clearview Airport with partner Tom Chapman.

Bruce C. Mundie, the Maryland Aviation Administration's general aviation director, said recent improvements at the two Carroll airports and good state safety inspections were important factors in the airports being selected for recognition.

The county-owned Carroll County Regional Airport installed a 5,100-foot runway in November 1994. Future improvements include an above-ground fuel system and construction of additional aircraft hangars.

"As a result of the airport extension, the airport is growing significantly and the demand for fuel there has skyrocketed," Mundie said.

The airport's perfect score during the annual state aviation inspection last month also helped to push it ahead of regional airports in Hagerstown, Cumberland, Salisbury and Easton.

"The airport was absolutely error-free; the grass was cut, everything was neat and in its place," Mundie said. "There was an awful lot of tender loving care given to that airport."

One person responsible for the airport's success is June Poage, president of Westair Inc., the company that operates the airport and provides services, including fuel, maintenance and flight training.

Poage leases the airport from the county. She and her husband, Jack B. Poage, took over operations in 1979. He was killed in an air show plane crash in 1990.

"It's very gratifying to be recognized for all of our employees' hard work, as far as keeping it a premier airport in the state," Poage said yesterday. She praised airport manager Stephen Brown for obtaining FAA grants to help pay for improvements.

Clearview Airport has prospered under the ownership of Seal and Chapman, who bought it four years ago.

The two men had managed the airport, near Morgan Run Natural Environment Area, since 1976.

"The airport was on the decline," Mundie said. "Tom and Lowell have put in what we call sweat equity and have worked very, very hard to get this airport turned around."

They repaved the 1,845-foot runway, installed a heating system and opened an airplane parts and pilots' supply store.

"We've put a lot of hard work into it and we don't have a staff like Carroll County does," Seal said. "We do what we have to do [ourselves] with a lot of volunteers that help us out."

Mundie said that in recent years, many small privately owned airports similar to Clearview have closed.

"One of our main goals is to preserve these little airports," Mundie said. "Once we lose an airport, it's very difficult to find the land to build another one."

Pub Date: 7/18/96

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