JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. –
Joint Base Langley-Eustis will begin several construction projects at Felker Army Airfield to keep up with constantly evolving technological developments in security and operations.
The first of these projects includes new access gates to the airfield, providing additional security while minimizing the deer population on and around the runways.
“The runway is where aircraft are going to have high speeds at landing or take off,” said John Musser, Felker airfield manager. “There was a time when the runway environment would see as many as 20 to 30 deer a night, so it’s really important for everyone’s safety that we keep them off the airfield.”
Though efforts have been made to minimize that number to just a few deer within the airfield fences, the additional gates will hopefully drive all remaining deer off the airfield and prevent them from settling within the fenced area.
“Although mammals are potentially the easiest hazard to prevent, they often present the largest risk of catastrophic damage due to their size and phase of flight when encountered,” said Adam Priestley, U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services wildlife specialist. “Once the gates are operational there should be fewer deer observed within the fence and very little immigration into the airfield.”
The new gate project will include cameras and key code entry for access and the overall population of the installation should see very little, if any, impact to traffic once complete.
“The main gate is further into the airfield in the hopes that we don’t create a backup of traffic (that) spills over onto Mulberry Island Road,” said Musser. “The only people who might see any difference in traffic are those who work within the airfield or who use the golf course.”
In addition to the new gate’s construction project, which is expected to be completed in August, Felker has many plans for additional construction over the next few years to improve the so-called “hornet’s nest” of traffic that air traffic controllers manage around the clock.
The near future plans include constructing a new bulk fuel facility, placing a cell tower within the gates of the airfield, building a new aviation complex on the south side of the runway and eventually moving the air traffic control tower to streamline aircraft coordination in the area.
“Hopefully with this construction and modernization of equipment, it’ll all be worth it in the end for the safety of the animals, our service members and our aircraft,” said Musser. “We have big plans for the future and we are working to ensure it is done with some forethought, in an effort to keep up with missions, which have growing capacity requirements for housing aircraft.”
While all of this is going on over the next few years, planners and partners will do everything necessary to minimize any impact on airfield operations, so service members can continue accomplishing the mission.