Snowmachine riders tear up Willow airstrip

Posted: Monday, December 17, 2001

WILLOW (AP) -- Snowmachine riders have cost thousands of dollars in damage to the Willow airstrip, according to state maintenance crews and air taxi operators.

Things have gotten so bad this winter that airport manager Ken Hammonds is afraid sooner or later a snowmachine is going to get tangled up with an airplane prop. Snowmachines have gouged deep ruts in the airstrip, knocked over landing lights and run over electric cords, he said.

More snowmachines are trespassing on the airstrip because of a lack of good snow elsewhere. Some riders have ridden donuts up and down the strip, and others try to slalom between the lights that line the runway. One rider knocked out eight lights in a row, Hammonds said.

Barry Stanley of Denali Flying Service said he's never come close to colliding with a snowmachiner, but he said twice last year he had to circle the airport an extra time because snowmachines were on the airstrip.

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