OSCODA – Representatives from the Oscoda Wurtsmith Airport Authority gathered via Zoom for their monthly meeting to discuss their experiences at the North American Space Summit (NASS) which took place in Traverse City on Aug. 31 to Sept.2.
Representatives that attended the summit included Mike Munson, Dave Dailey, Oscoda Township Supervisor Aaron Weed and Oscoda Wurtsmith Airport (OWA) Manager Gary Kellan. During the Thursday meeting, representatives shared what they learned and gained from the NASS. Kellan, who attended the summit last year said that similar to last year he recognized an overload of information.
“There was certain information that was on point for our involvement with spaceport development, but there was also a lot of technical presentations for those folks that are involved with autonomous vehicles and other types of systems that are expected to benefit from a broader satellite network,” said Kellan.
He said further that he welcomes any additional input about the summit from Munson, Dailey and Weed. Munson was first to share, and said going to the summit was an opportunity to see the bigger picture.
“The opportunity to go to these things is very enlightening because you get a better picture of how big this whole activity is,” said Munson. “This whole spaceport activity lends itself to a huge potential input of business that we open the door to which is what we wanted to do, I think, is to improve the economy of the area.”
Other representatives made mention of being in agreement with Munson, saying they too would like to see the economy improve in the area. Dailey also spoke saying that the biggest thing he took away from the summit was the need for connections.
“The thing I got away the most was we need to interact with the people from the UP and we’re all on one team. We’re all pushing towards the same goal,” said Dailey.
The Marquette area in the Upper Peninsula was selected in July as an ideal vertical spaceport launch site.
He said further that he was able to interact with a few people and build connections which he was pleased with for the most part.
Finally, Weed touched on specific details about the seminars themselves and made it evident that he was feeling positive about Oscoda being potentially chosen as the home of the horizontal launch.
“The seminars had a lot of good information in them spanning the whole plethora of what the satellites are going to do, how their going to be built and they estimated there’s going to be over the next 10 years there’s going to be 10,000 satellites launched, so people are in a hurry to get things put in place for these launches,” said Weed. “The overall premise that I got out of it was a lot of positivity about the horizontal launch being at Oscoda, so it gave me a little more hope that the FAA has a good chance of selecting us, so I hope that’s the case and not just some sort of false premise.”
He said further that with the amount of investors he believes are looking at Oscoda, he said even if Oscoda is not chosen, he believes enough interest has been drawn to the area.
“I hope that out of anything I hope that helps give us a little more development, so that we can have some economic improvement here and have a year-round sustainable economy,” said Weed.
Overall OWAA representatives and OT personnel seemed pleased, positive and hopeful about the months to come.
Other business included:
• Approval of August 2020 financial report of payment transactions totaling $127,790.11. According to Kellan, these transactions include a $33,345.23 refund to the Michigan Department of Transportation for under spending the Federal Aviation Administration technical operations grant. A motion to approve the report was made by Dailey and was seconded by Weed.
• Iosco Apron Resurfacing – The concrete work on the apron is complete and the asphalt companies are behind schedule, according to Kellan.
• Building 5006 demolition – One-third of building 5006 has been torn down and Kellan expects it to take another month.
• Taxiway ‘E’ Resurfacing – once work is complete on the apron project, they will begin work on Taxiway ‘E’
• FBO Hangar Door Modifications – no updates were given during the Thursday meeting.
• As previously reported, interest from the Air Force for a air mobility command inquiry where they are requested use of the airport was reported on. Kellan said a site visit will take place some time this week.
• Bids for vehicle purchase – The OWAA received two bids to replace its Ford Escape which is used for runway field inspections. Bids were received by Zubek for a 2021 Dodge 1500 Tradesman Quad Cab 4x4 for $28,665 and Dean Arbour for a 2021 Ford F-150 Super Cab 4x4 for $29,495.92. According to Kellan, staff requested approving the lower bid which contains a built-in tool box in the cargo bed. A motion to approve purchase of the vehicle was made by Dailey and was seconded by Munson receiving a 6-0 vote. OWAA Representative Rob Huebel was absent from the meeting.