New Jersey’s Bader Field to close

City officials in Atlantic City, N.J., have notified the FAA of their intent to close Atlantic City Municipal/ Bader Field Airport (AIY).

As this issue was going to press, the FAA was processing the city’s petition for closure.

“The paperwork is being reviewed to be sure everything that needs to be done when you close an airport is done,” said Arlene Sarlac, an FAA spokeswoman. “There may be equipment that has to be decommissioned and we need to be sure that pilots are notified.”

The closure has been in the works for a long time, noted Nick Morici, press secretary for Atlantic City Mayor Robert Levy. According to Morici, previous city administrations tried for years to close the airport, but were thwarted by obligations to keep the airport open for 20 years after accepting FAA funds. In September the last of those obligations will be fulfilled.

“This was not a surprise to anyone,” stressed Morici. “There have always been discussions to close Bader Field and when Mayor Levy took office six months ago the ball got rolling with the FAA.”

The city submitted its paperwork to the FAA July 25. Morici said it is his understanding that the airport will be closed around Sept. 17.

The 145 acres that the airport sits on will be redeveloped, but into what has not been determined. “We will do something that is of the greatest benefit to the community,” Morici said.

Ideas under consideration include a sports arena or a casino.

The airport is one of the oldest aviation facilities in the United States, having been established before 1919. In 1933 it was the launch site for the first cross-continent flight by two African-American men, Charles Alfred Anderson and Dr. Albert Ernest Forsythe. The men flew from Bader Field to Los Angeles in two days navigating with road maps and by natural landmarks.

Morici noted city officials appreciate the airport’s history but the changing needs of aviation have made it obsolete.

“Once upon a time it was the busiest little airport in south Jersey, but the development of other airports in the area, such as Atlantic City International Airport, took business away from it and contributed to the decline,” he explained. “If the airport has been dying, it has been dying for a long time. Maybe 10 or 20 years ago the city administration could have done something to renovate or rehabilitate the airport, but those things were not done. So now we see how we can cultivate the land.”

Morici noted that there are only 10 or so airplanes based at the airport now, adding that tenants were notified months ago about the impending closure and were able to find other accommodations.

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