On December 2, 2004, the club installed its first hard surface runway. In preparation, seventeen truck loads of granite gravel were added in late November to remove irregularities. This was graded into place by club members, then dragged and rolled to provide an optimum surface. A woven fabric material was utilized to provide the surfacing material. This is a product commonly used as an under layment for asphalt roads. It is available from U.S. Fabrics in rolls fifteen feet wide and three hundred feet in length. The material is porous to water. The result was a runway approximately 425 feet long and forty-four feet wide.
One member donated the use of his tractor with a bucket attachment. Another devised a tool for insertion into the center tube of the fabric rolls which allowed for lifting and transporting. Without the tractor, the job would have been much more difficult. The club's civil engineer, had previously staked out the new runway's perimeter. A string was pulled into place defining the westernmost edge of the runway, and the project was accomplished with volunteer labor on the part of twenty-two (about half) of the club's members. The fabric was fastened to the ground with wire staples, eight inches in length. Two of the club's members designed and fabricated four mechanical staple drivers which greatly facilitated the process. Some workers used rubber mallets to drive staples.
Staples were placed approximately six inches apart around the perimeter of each geotextile panel. The first roll of material was rolled out from north to south, then stretched to remove wrinkles as much as possible. Members then commenced driving staples. As soon as the first run of material was fastened down, a second run was placed with a six inch overlap on the first. This was followed up with a third run similarly placed, this forming the easternmost panel.
Work started at approximately 8:30 AM. Weather conditions were cool, in the fifty to sixty degree range. Skies were partly cloudy. Work was suspended at noon for a one hour lunch break. The job was complete at 3:00 PM, at which time club President Joel Green declared the new runway ready for use. Member Ed Bullock finalized inaugural proceedings by taking off and successfully landing a model aircraft before an enthusiastic audience of tired, but happy, club members.
On the day of installation, the fabric presented a wrinkled surface. By the next day, the fabric had stretched to the extent that all wrinkles disappeared. After nearly ten years, the fabric shows no signs of deterioration other than a number of prop cuts which have periodically been repaired with roofing tar, and most lately with Gorilla Tape. Subsequently, the runway was extended somewhat in length as well as width on the south end. Over the years, some minor erosion occurred under the fabric at both ends of the runway where the ground slopes owing to the surface of the underlying landfill. This was remedied in March, 2014 by cutting open the fabric, filling the erosional channels, and recovering with new material.
An aerial view of the runway is provided on the Home Page.
Revised April 17, 2014
Construction of the Club's First Hard Surface Runway