Chapel Hill rescued — at least for a year

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill must continue to operate Horace Williams Airport (IGX) for the public and Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Medical Air Operations for at least another year, according to the state’s recently-passed budget bill.

Meanwhile, the Legislative Research Commission will study the effect the closure of the airport would have on the AHEC program.

Saving Horace Williams has become a rallying point for North Carolina pilots, hundreds of whom have contacted their state legislators in an effort encouraged strongly by AOPA and The Southern Aviator.

The commission study will give AHEC doctors and pilots a chance to tell their stories, unhindered by university politics. AHEC uses general aviation aircraft to fly medical school faculty, medical residents and health science students to support other medical facilities across the state. Moving its operations to Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU), as the university’s chancellor has proposed, could delay AHEC flights unacceptably. RDU is a busy airline airport, 30 minutes or more from the university by road.

Although pilots and the medical community have won this round, the university still appears committed to closing Horace Williams. Its administration wants to build new faculty housing and executive offices on the land.

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