By Lance Cpl. Elyssa Quesada
The Jet Stream Staff
The 12,000-foot main Air Station runway, which is one of the longest runways on the East Coast, reopened on Oct. 16, 2008, after routine maintenance that began in February was completed.
It has been more than 10 years since the main runway's asphalt has been resurfaced and just like highways, the asphalt had started to deteriorate.
When the runway starts to fall apart it creates loose gravel and leaves the jets vulnerable to damage, according to David Moore, the airfield manager.
Potholes on a runway can cause significant damage to aircraft such as popped tires and possible damage to the intake during take off.
The first 1,000 feet of either side of the runway is made out of concrete to absorb the most violent part of landing, with the middle part of the runway being made of asphalt, Moore explained.
On Oct. 16, the main portion of Fightertown remains Merritt Field, 3.9 million square yards of runways and taxiways, which on June 19, 1975, was named in honor of Ridge Spring, S.C., native, Maj. Gen. Louis G. Merritt and has played a key role in national and worldwide training exercises and operations.
During the construction, the secondary runway was used 100 percent of the time unlike normal, where it is used about 10 percent of the time depending on the direction of the wind.
For the past eight months, increased jet noise has been heard in the vicinity of Lady's Island, Gray's Hill, Varnville and Hampton, throughout the concentrated training area as Marine and Navy aircraft utilized the shorter, 8,000 foot runway - this noise should be decreased and back to pre-maintenance levels.
There was also some lighting damage to the airfield that was repaired while the runway was closed, according to Moore. The installation of new equipment included remote-controlled simulated carrier deck landing lights.
The overall project cost more than $6 million and was completed by Ashland Paving and Construction Southeast Inc., First Coast Division, located in Savannah, Ga.
"The completion of the airfield now provides a smoother and safer surface for aircraft," Moore concluded.