Harvey Young Airport threatened

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I received an e-mail last night regarding Harvey Young Airport. Of the many airports serving general (non-commercial) aviation that once dotted the Tulsa area, Harvey Young is one of the few remaining. The airport's north-south asphalt runway sits between 11th and 21st Street, about halfway between 129th and 145th East Avenues. It is privately owned, but open to the public. It serves small aircraft that might be out of place at the jet- and high-end turboprop-oriented Jones Riverside Airport.

Long-time eastsiders will remember the sight of the Goodyear blimp setting down and mooring at Harvey Young back in the '70s. It was used as an airship landing pad as recently as last month, during the PGA.

Word is that the property has a new owner who intends to sell the airport to someone who will close it and build low-cost, government subsidized, housing in its place. Mick Fine, an aviation enthusiast who is a tenant at the airport has set up a website at saveharveyyoung.com to present the history of the airport and encourage its preservation as a working general aviation facility. From the home page:

Harvey Young Airport has a long and proud history of serving the aviation needs of the Tulsa-metro area since 1940. In the early days of World War II, the airport answered the country's call to train cadets for the US Army Air Corp (predecessor to the US Air Force). By all accounts, thousands of future combat pilots took their first flights over the countryside of east Tulsa County:

While Harvey Young was 'out in the country' when established, Tulsa expanded east to surround and incorporate it. Sadly, Harvey Young is the last VFR (visual flight rules) GA (general aviation) airport within easy driving distance from anywhere in Tulsa. Should this vital resource be lost, most of the 80 or so tenants will be forced to relocate their aircraft to municipal and private airports outside the Tulsa area such as Gundys in Owasso, Haskell, Wagoner, Claremore and others. The associated commerce from hangar rent, fuel, maintenance, and even the hamburger and coffee sales to pilots, crews and spectators will go with them.

Harvey Young has always been a draw for visiting aircraft due to its close proximity to Tulsa. At most any time of the week, several 'transient' aircraft are tied-down at the field to do business in town or just to visit friends and relatives. The field has also been a host to blimp traffic for decades including the recent PGA Final at Southern Hills.

The reason most of the old Tulsa airports are gone is simple - the land they occupied was economically viable for other uses, usually a traditional housing and/or commercial development. The main reason Harvey Young has not suffered the same fate before now is that it sits on a solid limestone rock shelf lying 3 feet or less below the soil surface.

That rock shelf poses a serious obstacle to placing water and sewer lines in the ground. It took a great deal of expense to blast through the rock for the construction of the former Albertson's distribution center at Admiral and 145th, just a mile and a half north. In building its HQ, a couple of miles south along the ridge, Quik Trip dealt with the problem by constructing a campus of buildings, avoiding the outcroppings of rock. The development best suited to the area has been homes on small acreages, served by septic tanks.

Although it's in private hands, this airstrip is an asset to the community, one that would be impossible to replace inside Tulsa's city limits. I hope our city leaders understand its value to their constituents.

The website features historic photos and articles about the airport, well worth a browse.

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3 Comments

Lewis Jarrett said:

As I recall, several years ago in a conversation with Jay Nelson of the FAA, he told me that Harvey Young airport would remain an airport due to it being Grandfathered as an airport. That is so long as it retained its current grass runway.

What this has to do with anything, I don't know but it's worth looking into.

Lewis

Mick Fine said:

Thanks to everyone for visiting the save Harvey Young website. We have started an on-line petition at:
http://petition.saveharveyyoung.com
Paper petitions will also be available at various locations including this weekend's Bartlesville Fly-In:
http://www.tulsaflyin.com/

Clinton H Groves said:

I was an A&P student at Spartan School of Aeronautics 1964-1965 and took flight instruction at Harvey Young, both runways were grass then but it was very user friendly, a real joy to visit.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 7, 2007 3:14 PM.

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