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The Grassroots Effort to Save Elements of a Historic Airport

November 10, 2016 - Time is truly of the essence as a local pilot group works to raise the funds needed to clear trees creating an obstruction to the historic gravel crosswind runway at their airport. The crosswind runway at Taunton Municipal Airport (KTAN) is a grass gravel runway 1,900 feet by 60 feet. It is used by many light-sport aircraft and taildraggers that base at KTAN and as well as many visitors.

The runway is currently out of compliance of the FAA requisite 15-to-1 glide slope due to the tree incursions. Although the FAA has funding for tree clearing, this gravel runway is considered a low priority and funds are currently not available. Additionally, the local airport commission has said they will close the runway unless the airport’s pilots can raise the funds necessary to clear the trees.

In response, local pilots have banded together, creating The Taunton Pilots Association (TPA), – a 501(c)(3) organization based in southeastern Massachusetts, to save the runway that is such an important part of this historic airport.

The Taunton Municipal Airport was established in 1919 by Henry King. He preserved and maintained the airport until 1960, when it was handed over to the city of Taunton. Some hangars on the airport grounds date back to the earliest days of aviation and are registered with the National Register of Historic Places.

As any tailwheel or light aircraft pilot knows, having a crosswind runway can be a life saver. At Taunton, the summer prevailing winds favor runway 4/22, generally blowing from the west southwest. Pilots based at Taunton as well as many from surrounding airports count on this runway for safe recreational flying and training.

The TPA has spent $10,000 to date and anticipates an additional $35,000 will be needed to clear tress, some of which are in wet areas which will require special low impact tread equipment. As of the writing of this article they have raised $32,000 but need to begin removal this month in order to complete their project before the commission’s deadline, winter 2017. 

The TPA has received permission from Natural Heritage to cut trees from November 1, 2016, to March 31, 2017.

Learn more about the group’s efforts by visiting their website and Facebook page. For more information, contact: Melinda Paine-Dupont, President Taunton Pilots Association via e-mail at or by phone at 508-294-2600.

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