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Much going on this summer at Sawyer airport

Sawyer International Airport and Marquette County officials are expecting an exceedingly busy summer construction season there.

Central will be shortening of the facility’s U.S. Air Force-constructed runway, from 12,370 to 9,070 feet, which will be significantly cheaper to maintain, Sawyer officials have said. The longer runway was needed to accommodate large military aircraft such as the B-52 Stratofortress, which were stationed at Sawyer during the Cold War.

“Currently, it is the biggest single runway in the state of Michigan,” Steve Schenden, Sawyer’s director of operations, said for a Mining Journal story on the matter. “At the end of this summer, we’ll be at 9,000 feet, which is still a pretty good runway.”

The surplus 3,300 feet won’t be torn up, however, but instead will be painted in a way to alert approaching pilots that it is no longer being used. It could still be used, presumably, in an emergency, however.

In addition, the airport will be upgraded from a category IV security airport to a category III in mid-summer, making it the only category III airport in the Upper Peninsula. The benefit there will be that Sawyer International will be able to accept larger scheduled passenger aircraft that carry more passengers, which will allow the airport to serve more travelers.

With more than 1,000 people employed at a variety of businesses unrelated to flight operations, Sawyer International Airport has quietly become a real success story in Marquette County, one we hope this writing will underscore to our readers.