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Genesee County Airport

March 17, 2015 - 11:42am
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, nature, Genesee County Airport, snowy owl.

Rebecca Grela shared this picture she took Saturday of the snowy owl at the Genesee County Airport.

January 15, 2015 - 1:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Genesee County Airport, P&L Air.

Pete Lockner has decided retirement is for the birds. He'd rather get back to doing what he loves: teaching people to fly.

Next week, the County Legislature will be asked to sign off on a new one-year lease for Lockner to open -- we should say, reopen -- P&L Air, a flight school, at the Genesee County Airport.

Lockner and a partner (hence P&L) first opened a flight school in Batavia in 1986. Lockner bought out his partner when he took an early retirement from Kodak and grew the school into an operation with 10 aircraft for students to rent and learn in.

"I taught people how to have fun for 17 years and it was great," Lockner said.

After 17 years of fun, Lockner sold the business, but that operator eventually closed up shop and moved to Florida.

A second flight school opened, but was forced out of business 18 months ago in a tax dispute with the State of New York.

While taking in the dry heat of Albuquerque, N.M., Lockner heard of the vacancy at his old airport and saw it as an opportunity to get back to doing what he truly enjoys.

P&L will be a small enterprise to start, with only one single-engine plane, but Lockner is ambitious. He hopes to have a second plane in a year or so and add on from there.

"In a couple of years, I'm hopeful the business grow like it did before," Lockner said.

Lockner's interest in aviation goes back to his college days, but didn't start flying until his wife bought him a gift certificate for ground school for Christmas when he was 40.

Bit by the bug, Lockner is licensed to fly everything from a single-engine plane up to a commercial airliner. 

P&L will provide pilot training for beginners and beyond.

The basic single-engine pilot license without an instrument rating is pretty much all anybody needs to fly to any destination in the world, Lockner said.

He used to fly all over the country on such a license. 

"The private pilot license is most useful because as long you don't worry about bad weather, you can fly anywhere you want," Lockner said.

County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens said Lockner returning is welcome news.

The one-year lease will expire about the time the airport will get a new terminal, and P&L, if successful, could be a nice anchor tenant.

"It's nice to have him back because he knows the airport and he knows the market, so I think he will be successful," Hens said. "He's a good pilot."

December 26, 2014 - 2:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, animals, outdoors, birds, Genesee County Airport.

Here's one of the snowy owls out at the airport in a photo by Dylan Brew, of Schoen Productions.

December 9, 2014 - 2:18pm

A pair of snowy owls have returned to the Genesee County Airport. Jim Burns sent in these photos. Burns said he and other members of the Batavia Photo Club have been out photographing the pair, whom they dubbed George (above) and Martha.

July 23, 2014 - 1:43pm
posted by Billie Owens in Genesee County Airport, chris collins.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) announced $630,000 in federal funding from the Federal Aviation Administration for the Genesee County Airport. The grant will fund the construction for approximately 700 linear feet of taxi lane necessary to provide access to the new T-hangar areas at the airport.

“Supporting local governments with the cost of maintaining, repairing and building critical infrastructure is an appropriate use of federal tax dollars,” Congressman Collins said. “Local taxpayers send a lot of their hard-earned money to Washington and it is only proper that we get a share of it back to assist with projects that are important to our local communities.”

“The grant not only supports local construction jobs, but it allows for the construction of the aprons that are needed to erect additional facilities necessary to address Genesee County's long-standing waiting list for hangars,” said Timothy J. Hens, Superintendent for the Genesee County Highway Department. “More hangars means more activity at the airport, which is good for the county, and good for the businesses based at and around the airport.”

The Congressman’s office remains available to assist any local government pursuing a federal grant.

May 10, 2014 - 11:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in history, Genesee County Airport, Whiskey 7.

An honest bit of history was parked at the Genesee County Airport for a time this afternoon. Whiskey 7, a Douglas C-47 that actually dropped paratroopers on the beaches at Normandy, June 6, 1944, stopped for refueling on its way back to Geneseo. 

The aircraft "has been all over" said Naomi Wadsworth, the pilot. It's currently owned by the National Warplane Museum in Geneseo. After the war, it was sold to Capital Airlines, then Frontier Airlines, and then it was flown commercially in Alaska then South America before returning to the U.S. to be displayed in museums. The folks in Geneseo acquired it in 2006. 

Wadsworth said they've actually located one of the paratroopers who jumped from the plane on D-Day.

The plane is returning to Normandy on Thursday for the 70th Anniversary of the famous battle. The crew has raised enough money for fuel to make the trip there but still needs to raise money for the return flight. Six bucks buys a gallon of gas. To find out about making a donation, visit www.rtn2014.org.


December 31, 2013 - 4:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, nature, Genesee County Airport.

Jason Berne, manager of Parmenter Tire near the airport, sent in this picture of a snowy owl that he said a researcher brought into the shop for he and his staff to see.

"They are beautiful," Berne said.

TV news crews have been out to the airport today. Jay Terkel, in comments on our story from yesterday, said there are so many cars driving slowly around the airport "it's like Lion Country Safari" out there.

Photo by Jay Terkel.

Photo by Dylan Brew.

December 31, 2013 - 3:21pm
posted by Jay Terkel in Jay Terkel, Genesee County Airport, snowy owl.

December 30, 2013 - 6:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, animals, nature, Genesee County Airport.

Snowy owls have become Batavia's latest tourist attraction. Birders are driving out to the Genesee County Airport from miles around to see the majestic raptors.

"It's very special to come out and see such an unusual bird," said Leslie Phillips, a Rochester resident who read about the "irruption" of snowy owls in Batavia through an e-mail discussion list for birders.

Irruptions are the irregular southern migrations exhibited by bird species that typically winter in Canada and the extreme northern United States, according to Cornell University's Project Feederwatch.

She was among six or seven birders who were on State Street Road this afternoon with scopes and binoculars watching the owls perched on snow banks or fence posts.

David Genesky, a conservationist who specializes in raptors, spent much of the day trapping the owls on behalf of a national snowy owl research program.

By 5 p.m. he had caught eight and believed there were at least two more in the airport area. (CORRECTION: It's eight for the season, three on Tuesday.)

Genesky collected a feather, for a DNA sample, and weighed each bird before banding it and releasing it. The whole process took about five minutes per bird.

"Personally, I just want to make sure the species is OK," Genesky said. "There's a lot of talk about global warming and climate change and how it would effect their nesting areas, and for me personally, that's what I'm concerned about."

Genesky said the collection of snowy owls at the airport is a great opportunity for the public to see one of the great birds of the wild up close.

"They've been as steady as can be for the last month," Genesky said. "People have come from miles away and gotten good looks at them."

Sharon Leising hasn't had to travel far this winter to see the owls. She lives on State Street Road, and when she heard about the trapping project today, she had to meet up with Genesky and learn about what he was doing. She was at the Emergency Training Center when Genesky brought one of the birds in for cataloging (inset photo; photo courtesy Sharon Leising).

"This is so exciting, to have something like this happen in our area," Leising said. "They're such beautiful birds."

Typically, snowy owls make their homes in the Arctic and don't often congregate in such numbers in the northeast.

"This year is probably is biggest number in 40 years," Genesky said. "It's very rare to get this many birds in the Northeastern United States.  The Western states have fewer birds. They seem to have concentrated here."

Genesky said the local snowy owl population seems to be in good shape.

"Believe me, these birds are all healthy," he said. "They're not starving."

While there may be as many as a dozen snowy owls in the airport area, that number will thin soon to one or two as the birds establish their territories for the rest of the winter. Grenesky said anybody interested in seeing the birds should get out to the airport soon.

Leslie Phillips

September 16, 2013 - 9:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Airport.

There's a plan in place to build a new terminal building at the Genesee County Airport. There's just no money to pay for it.

The feds have provided grants for the architectural work -- $200,000 so far, with another $200,000 in planning the work required. And the feds will pay for demolition of the current terminal building, which sits partially within the Federal Aviation Administration's required safety zone near a runway.

The feds right now are not paying for new terminal construction.

The new terminal and associated hangar will cost about $6.5 million.

County Highway Superintendant Tim Hens discussed the status of the terminal project at today's Public Service Committee meeting.

There may be some grant money available soon to help cover the cost, but if grant money doesn't come through, the current plans may need to be put on a shelf, Hens said, until funding is found.

At the meeting today, county legislators expressed full support for replacing the current, aging terminal, but how to pay for it is the vexing problem.

The county could issue a construction bond, but that would mean interest payments, so legislators peppered Hens with suggestions to ask airport users -- including Mercy Flight, the State Police and some local corporations -- to help pay for the new terminal.

Because the terminal is a critical link in economic growth, Legislator Ray Cianfrini wondered if the Genesee County Economic Development Center shouldn't kick in some cash.

"We have a lot of site selectors flying in and business people from around the country," Hens said. "For a lot of these people coming to our county for the first time, their first impression they have of our county is the airport terminal. When you're talking about a site the size of STAMP, big companies like Apple and Intel might fly in here and the terminal is their first impression."

The proposed new terminal would be two levels with space for current tenant Boshart (also leasing the new hangar attached to the new terminal), a cafe, office space, conference room space and space for a new flight school.

September 9, 2013 - 1:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Airport, NY-27, chris collins.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) announced today that the Genesee County Airport, located in Batavia, will receive two grants from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) totaling more than $1 million. The first grant, for $973,800, will fund the construction necessary to relocate the airport’s apron. An apron is the area of the airport where planes are parked, unloaded, refueled and boarded. This project includes 77,500 square feet of new pavement and the reconstruction of 44,000 square feet of existing pavement.

The second grant, for $63,000, will provide funding for the design of a new taxiway leading to the T-hangar at the airport. 

“Supporting local governments with the cost of maintaining, repairing and building critical infrastructure is an appropriate use of federal tax dollars,” Collins said. “Local taxpayers send a lot of their hard-earned money to Washington and it is only proper that we get a share of it back to assist with projects that are important to our local communities.”

The Congressman’s office remains available to assist any local government pursuing a federal grant.

July 2, 2013 - 10:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, taxes, Genesee County Airport.

The way Bob Miller sees it, before long, if you want to learn to fly, you will need to go to Pennsylvania or Ohio because there will be no flight schools left in New York.

"The state is holding all the cards on this," Miller told members of the Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.

Within the past year, NYS Taxation and Finance has started auditing the owners of airplanes that are used as rentals for flight school students.

The state is demanding payment, Miller said, of taxes that were once exempt.

According to Miller, he can't legally charge students tax for their flight hours, but when private plane owners rent their planes to flight schools, the state is now demanding the owners pay sales tax on those fees.

As a result private plane owners who have been audited by the state will no longer rent their planes to flight schools.

More than two months ago, plane owners in Lancaster were audited and Miller was forced to close his school there. Now the state has gone after Batavia plane owners and he must shut down his aviation school here.

"It's not a new law," Miller said. "It's a new interpretation. The executive branch is holding all of the private airplane owners hostage to their interpretation of the code."

According to Miller, this hasn't been an issue in New York for 40 years, and certainly not during the 20 years he's been involved in aviation instruction.

"The state is so desperate for sales tax revenue they're going after everything," Miller said.

Currently, according to Miller, investors buy airplanes without sales tax if they are renting the planes to flight schools. If the planes are rented to private pilots who are not students, then the owners must pay sales tax; if the owners take the planes on a flight for their own private use, they must pay a portion of sales tax for the usage, but for 40 years, there's been no sales tax, he said, on student rentals through flight schools.

The state is requiring plane owners to pay for past unpaid sales taxes going up to five years back.

As a result, Miller said, the plane owners are just ceasing rental services to aviation schools in the state.

Miller has a lease for hangars and office space in the Genesee County Airport through 2015 and he's being asked to be let out of the lease because he's now out of business as a result of the state's actions.

Highway Superintendent Tim Hens recommended the Legislature require Miller to pay rent for 90 days, giving the county time to find a new tenant.

Hens said he isn't worried about filling the hangars -- there's a waiting list for hangar space, but he isn't sure the office space in the terminal will be filled, especially since it will be hard to find another filght school under the current circumstances.

The county will lose about $2,400 a month $2,700 per year in revenue with the flight school closed, due to a decrease in aviation fuel sales.

June 19, 2012 - 3:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Airport, aviation.

Ninth- and 10th-graders from throughout the GLOW region are invited to the WNY Aviation Adventure Camp, July 7 through 13 at Genesee County Airport.

The cost of the camp is $345, which includes meals and overnight bunking in the camp's hangar at the airport.

The deadline for registration is JUNE 22.

The camp includes:

  • Taking the controls from the pilot's seat of an aircraft in flight
  • Completing an FAA approved 16-hour private pilot ground course
  • Participating in the inspection and repair of aircraft
  • View military aircraft at the Buffalo Naval and Serviemen's Park and Museum
  • Visiting the Geneseo Air Show
  • Going behind the scenes at the Greater Rochester International Airport and receiving a briefing from the TSA
  • Touring the USAF's 914th Airlift Wing in Niagara Falls and its fleet of C130 Hercules aircraft.

Participating students will be kept busy from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day with these activities and more, with each evening ending with an aviation-themed movie, such at "Top Gun," "The Memphis Belle," "Apollo 13" and "The Tuskegee Airmen."

For more information, visit the WNY Aviation Adventure Camp Web site.

Photo: Pete Zeliff, left, who is hosting the camp in his hangar with his fleet of aircraft, which includes a brand-new Bell helicopter, and Eve Hens, one of the organizers. Zeliff is holding his 4-year-old grandson, Owen, who won't be at the camp, but wanted to in the picture.

September 17, 2011 - 1:21pm
posted by Michelle Wheatley in Genesee County Airport.

I just wanted to say thank you to the EAA chapters of Rochester and Buffalo for hosting it's Young Eagles Flight Program today at the Genesee County Airport.

It was a great opportunity for children ages 7 + to experience the joy of flying. And the pilots volunteer their time and money for this to happen!  As I spoke to one of the pilots that took my 13 year old daughter up, he said they predict a loss of pilots within the next 10 years--what a great opportunity to grow potential pilots through this program.

My children did this one other time and this time was just as a great. We look forward to having another experience like this again in the Spring!


August 31, 2011 - 10:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Airport.

The Federal Aerospace Administration has dangled some grant money in front of local officials for some improvements at the Genesee County Airport. So with time short to accept at least one of the grants, the legislature met in emergency session Wednesday evening to vote on acceptance of the funds.

The grants -- one hasn't officially been offered yet -- move the county a few steps closer to building a new terminal at the airport.

The current terminal is probably more than 50 years old, dating back to a time of grass runways and private ownership.

Even with these grants, however, County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens doesn't see a new terminal on the horizon just yet.

He suspects voters -- and hence elected legislators -- will balk at the $4 million price tag, even though construction of the terminal shouldn't cost local taxpayers a dime.

"Even if the airport can be 100-percent self-sustaining and repay the bond (from airport proceeds), the public still has a perception that times are tough, we're trying to cut taxes and you guys are going to spend $4 million on this," Hens said. "That is a very hard perception to overcome.

"I would love to see it go as soon as next year," Hens added, "but the practical side of me says it won't happen for three to four years."

There are two grants the legislature considered Wednesday.

One, for a new terminal apron, has already been offered by the feds and the county has until Sept. 9 to complete the paperwork to get it.

The second grant is for the design of a new terminal, but Hens said it hasn't officially been offered yet.

"We're in the final month of the fiscal year for the federal government and they have hinted, or wink, wink, we've got more money coming for you for the design of the terminal," Hens said.

"We don't physically have the grant offer in hand yet. But I know that within the next two weeks, based on previous experience, they're going to issue all their grants, figure out their books and say, 'OK, we've got $300,000 left, we can give $200,000 of it to Genesee County."

The grant for the terminal apron is a little more than $1 million and the state will kick in $27,000 for the project and $27,000 in county funds (from sales tax) will be used.

Hens said the current apron -- just west of the current terminal -- is 40 years old, full of potholes and cracks. A new apron will be safer and allow more space for planes to park.

The apron can also be built with a new terminal in mind, including grading and conduits for utilities.

A new terminal, if built, would be closer to West Saile Drive, which would address the chief concern of the FAA: The current terminal is positioned too close to the runway, making it unsafe.

Even so, Hens said, the FAA doesn't typically pay for construction of terminals. It's just not something they do.

So if it's going to be built, it will take a county-sponsored bond to make it happen.

A new terminal would be about the same size as the current terminal, but with a better floor plan. It could allow for food service, a lounge for pilots, a conference room, a counter for car rentals and other services.

Currently, the airport generates more than $100,000 in revenue and an improved terminal could help increase that revenue, Hens said, not to mention that a better insulated, more environmentally friendly building would save expenditures from the airport fund.

"Anything we can do to increase revenue would make it much easier to repay the bond," Hens said.

Even though there are no immediate plans to build a new terminal, legislators thought it wise to accept the $200,000 FAA grant, if offered, with the another $100,000 coming from available airport funds (which can't be transfered to the general fund anyway).

"We want to take advantage of the money if it's there," Legislator Bob Radley said. "We don't want to give back $200,000 of their money."

July 15, 2011 - 8:47pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, accidents, Genesee County Airport.

An airplane has rolled over on the west-end runway at the Genesee County Airport and the pilot is still inside. Unknown injuries. No fire seen.

Mercy medics and Town of Batavia firefighters are responding. The airport is at 4705 E. Saile Drive, Town of Batavia.

UPDATE 8:48 p.m.: No extrication needed. The pilot is conscious and alert but medical attention is required.

UPDATE 8:52 p.m.: Medics will need assistance in getting the pilot out.

UPDATE 8:58 p.m.: A "hydraulic rescue cutter" is needed and will be brought to the scene.

UPDATE 9:03 p.m.: A pumper truck out of Oakfield is asked to stand in at Town of Batavia's fire hall. Mercy Flight is responding to the scene.

UPDATE 9:05 p.m.: The patient has been extricated.

UPDATE 9:10 p.m.: There's a 10 minute ETA for Mercy Flight.

UPDATE 9:12 p.m.: The Mercy Flight pilot says the airfield is in sight and it should arrive in about three minutes. The injured pilot is said to be in stable condition with a head laceration and an "open fracture" on one of his legs.

UPDATE 9:17 p.m.: Mercy Flight has landed.

UPDATE 9:30 p.m.: Mercy Flight is airborne, en route in Strong Memorial Hospital.

UPDATE 9:48 p.m.: Town of Batavia firefighters returning to service and so is Oakfield. The runway and taxiway are being checked, and swept, as per Federal Aerospace Adminstration requirements. State police will be the last to leave and then the runway will be reopened.

UPDATE 9:51 p.m.: The airport runway is clear of debris.

UPDATE: WBTA's Geoff Redick was still on scene when a State Trooper conducted a short press conference. Watch the video here. The pilot is Patrick McCabe, 54, of Caledonia. McCabe suffered a compound fracture to his leg. The trooper said this flight was McCabe's maiden voyage with the plane. The crash occured before take-off for an unknown reason.

June 16, 2011 - 12:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Genesee County Airport, kathy hochul.

Press release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Kathy Hochul today announced that Genesee County Airport will receive nearly $1.3 million in funding for its apron expansion, which will provide greater and safer aircraft movement, as well as aircraft parking at the airport.

“This is great news for both the Genesee County Airport, as well as all the aircrafts that travel through here,” said Congresswoman Hochul. “This funding will help the airport rehabilitate aprons, as well as enhance and expand the safety of aprons.”

The viability of the airport is important as it houses a State Police helicopter, numerous crop-dusting planes, and a medical helicopter used to transport victims in emergencies.

The airport is also used for training by the Army National Guard.

January 19, 2011 - 8:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Mercy Flight, Genesee County Airport.

In order to secure a federal grant for a new helicopter, Mercy Flight apparently needs a long-term lease for its facility at the Genesee County Airport.

During Tuesday's Public Service Committee meeting, Legislator Ray Cianfrini said he's concerned that the proposed terms of the lease are not in the county's best interest.

The proposed lease would cap rent increases at 2 percent per year and Cianfrini is concerned that in the future, the county could be losing out on a good deal of potential revenue.

"It just seems to me that 25 years down the road, this could be a pittance compared to what other people are paying for similar space," Cianfrini said. "I don't ever want to lose Mercy Flight. They're a tremendous asset. But as a lawyer, as a legislator and as a taxpayer, I think it's a horrible lease for Genesee County."

David Wozniak, deputy superintendent of county highways, pointed out that Mercy Flight leases additional space for its ambulance service which isn't tied to the hangar lease. Mercy Flight owns its own hangar, and plans to build a new one, and leases the land it sits on. Also, there's no cap on the price of fuel Mercy Flight buys from the county.

The terms of the lease require a mutual agreement to renew every five years, but because of a discrepancy between the lease language and supporting documents provided to legislators, a vote on the lease was tabled and the matter was referred to the Ways and Means Committee.

Ways and Means meets today at 4 o'clock in the Old Courthouse.

November 16, 2010 - 7:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, accident, Genesee County Airport.

A student pilot apparently forgot to put down the landing gear on his plane today leading to an unintentional crash landing at the Genesee County Airport this afternoon.

While the crash, reported at 12:17 p.m., caused an estimated $40,000 damage to a 2004 Cessna, there were no injuries, fire or fuel spill.

The student pilot, according to a Sheriff's Office release, was 66-year-old Michael E. Pearson, of Pittsford.

His instructor was Robert J. Roberts, 35, of Rochester.

The student and instructor were doing "touch-and-go" training at the airport this afternoon at the time of the accident.

The plane skidded 546 feet down the runway.

The investigation is continuing, conducted by Deputy Lonnie Nati and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Assisting at the scene were Genesee County Emergency Services, Town of Batavia Fire and Mercy EMS.

(initial report)

September 18, 2010 - 10:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Genesee County Airport.


Michael Dorobilala, a student at Robert Morris, thought his time in a plane flying over Genesee County today was "awesome."

The best part?

"Going down because it gives you a swoosh of excitement and you’re like tingly."

Michael was one of 60 kids to show up at the Genesee County Airport today to get a first-hand experience flying a small airplane. The Young Eagles event was sponsored by Experimental Aircraft Association chapters out of Buffalo and Rochester.

The EAA has been running the Young Eagles worldwide since 1992, when the idea was launched with the goal of getting one million children at the throttles of a small plane by the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first flight. To date, more than 1.6 million kids from 90 countries have been through the program.

Rochester Chapter President Norm Isler said the EAA wants to not only expose kids to aviation, but to show them a practical use for math and science.

Pilot Mary "Willie" Mattocks said, to her, being able to fly is a privilege, so a program like Young Eagles is a chance to give back.

The flight is more than a tag-along ride. The children actually are given a chance to fly the plane.

"It's a fantastic event for children," said Mattocks, who owns her own Piper Cherokee and has been flying for 20 years. "It gives them an introduction to flying and I think it stays with them for the rest of their lives. They get just such a lot of pleasure out of it."

As for Mattock's assessment of Michael, she wrote in his log book, "Michael will be an awesome pilot. Keep going with the math and science. Straight and level at 2,500 feet. Executed turn at Darien Lake."

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