KayLynn Roberts-McMurray photo
Lance Gale, airport manager, discusses with the White Pine County Commission to cancel the air races.

The Ely Times

Airport Manager Lance Gale stood before the White Pine County Commission to give an update on the Ely Air Races that were scheduled June 13-15.

Gale was questioned on why there was mention made at last week’s special fire commission meeting that the airport was going to be closed? 

Commissioner Steve Stork said, “I was dumbfounded last week when we got the report that the FAA was going to shut down the airport because of the closing of Station 1, when I inquired from you, for one of those inspectors names, I still haven’t received that info.”  

Gale said, “The FAA representative was out at the airport and he was here before the part 139 was dissolved and that’s why I was told they wanted to close the airport, and as we went back and looked at it, it was surrendered in 2011.” 

Gale also went on to explain that he was advised as of last Friday he had no Airport Rescue Fire Truck certified individual to respond to any airport issues.  

Stork said, “Who advised you of that?”

Gale said “the interim fire district chief, Carl Gregory, he’s the one who told me, and he was the individual I have been working with.”

Gale also noted that the FAA told him, if the Fire District 1 remains closed and they don’t have further possibility for EMS and emergency response to the airport it would affect further grant applications.

District Attorney Mike Wheable said, “I’ll have an addendum, that we can include and adopt in how the city is and can cover the airport.” 

County Commissioner Ian Bullis said the response moved five miles away. Commissioner Shane Bybee said, “That same response was here for years, they ran a 737 in here with the same response and I don’t think that’s going to be an issue.” 

Stork expressed his frustration, commenting on how it was reported that the airport was being closed, because the FAA said Fire District Station 1 was closing.  

“I have copies of notification sent to Carson City, by the Emergency Management Director that all life flights are going to have to be transferred to other airports, so I want to know, how did things get so blown out of proportion and put this board in a really bad light,” Stork said.  “How do I go about requesting a personnel session? I have some questions and I think they need to be answered.”

Wheable said he could discuss it with the chairman and have it placed on the agenda.

When it came to the discussion and update air races and air show, Gale explained how the company that was going to conduct the air races failed to come up with particular items in the appropriate amount time, but he also noted that the event requires EMS support.  

Vice Chairman of the Commission Travis Godon said, “I don’t know, I kinda gotta call bull—- because it’s like if the county was there last year why can’t you put the city on the same plan from last year? This isn’t rocket science.”

Gale was asked if he had the agreement from last year, and he said he didn’t. He was then asked if the FAA had it, and he said they didn’t have a copy of it either.

Several commissioners asked again if the FAA had copies, Gale said “No.”  

Wheable said, “There could be a plan at the fire district, and if we can just get that plan and modify it.”

It came down to the air race committee discussing for several hours on whether or not the event should happen.   

Stork asked how much money have has been raised to date. Gale said, “Twenty-two thousand, in the last 10 days, we’ve had an amazing amount of people come to us with sponsorships.” 

Howe asked how much actual cash on hand? 

Gale said “$22,000.”

Elizabeth Frances, finance manager said, “Actual cash on hand is 15,000.”

Gale, noted there was $15,000 in cash, and another $8,000 committed.  

 Bullis said, “I’d be curious to hear the reason the committee feels the need to cancel this.”

Gale said, “We met with the officials, a lot of things hadn’t happened.  We should have had all these things done months ago, and so we got an email back from them on Friday. They just barely received a list of pilots that should have been in much sooner.  Insurance info hadn’t been received.” 

Stork said, “I was disappointed that  nine and a half months there was still a whole lot of logistics that hadn’t been figured out. I encouraged them, you still have a month to get stuff done, but I kinda get the ugly feeling that they utilized the EMS and closure of the fire station, as an excuse to cancel the air races, when there’s a whole lot of other things.”

Howe said, “This is not an EMS issue, Steve’s right, you’ve had 9 1/2 months, and up to the last you they still have lots of questions, and we just talked about the dollar amount, I appreciate what your board is saying, there are too many unanswered questions.”

Gale said, “And that’s why we are coming before the board that we don’t want to proceed.”

 Bullis said, “The communication will be the ball was dropped by the people bringing the races out, not by the committee, not because of this EMS stuff, I smell…”

Godon said “foul play.”

Bullis said, “Ten tickets sales terrifies me, that demonstrates a pretty minimal interest.” 

After much discussion, the commission agreed to cancel the air races.