Longer runway planned for Macon County Airport

There will be more space to land at the Macon County Airport in the next few years.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is approving a $4.5 million project to add 1,000 feet to the runway -- 500 feet at each end.

The plan requires Macon County to pitch in about $500,000, which leaders have agreed to. The longer runway is expected to attract more jet pilots who see more safety coming.

“That extra thousand feet makes all the difference. Because if anything goes wrong or if an animal comes out or whatever you just need a little extra space, you got it,” jet pilot Rob Holland said.

The longer runway is also expected to generate revenue for the county. Several big companies use the airport and want a safer landing strip.

“We had some industries here that use this airport -- Drake Industries. People that fly in from Raleigh to come to Western Carolina University, they come here,” Miles Gregory, with the Macon County Airport Authority, said.

Airport neighbor James Roper said the airport can get noisy. He’s not against the runway extension. He just wants it to build county revenue.

“If it won't help the county, then it costs too much money to operate,” he said.

The target date for the expansion project is 2022.

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