No planes, but lots of federal money

If an airport on a country road had almost no landings or takeoffs, would it make a sound? Also, would it stay open and keep raking in federal money, despite the looming budget cuts?

As David A. Fahrenthold reports, there is such an airport in southern Oklahoma.

This is Lake Murray State Park Airport, one of the least busy of the nation’s 3,300-plus public airfields. In an entire week here, there might be one landing and one takeoff — often so pilots can use the bathroom. Or none at all. Visiting pilots are warned to watch out for deer on the runway.

The airport is given $150,000 each year in federal funding, the same amount that goes to hundreds of other small airports in the country. At dozens of airfields like Lake Murray, there are no paying customers, and no planes based at the field.

Last year, state officials voted to keep the airport open after debating its “viability and usefulness,” The Oklahoman reported.

Air travel is a particularly fraught issue as the sequester approaches. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned last week that the budget cuts could lead to air traffic control towers closing and massive delays.

But what would happen to airports like Lake Murray? And how did Lake Murray wind up raking in so much money for so few planes? For more, read the entire story.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.

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Dana Hedgpeth · February 26, 2013

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