As soon as the plane left the ground, construction workers immediately began tearing up the runway's pavement in an effort to turn the old runway into a new taxiway.
A Flagler runway experienced the rumbling of an airplane gathering speed for takeoff for the last time on Thursday, July 27.
Media, airport personnel and members of the Rotary Club of Palm Coast gathered at Flagler Executive Airport, located at 201 Airport Road, to watch a plane taxi and takeoff from Runway 11-29 from the final time.
A T-6 Texan, which was used to train pilots during World War II, was the aircraft of choice for the runway's last takeoff.
The runway was initially constructed in 1942 and served as a training outlying base for the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville.
“This, to me, was a very humbling experience,” said Airport Director Roy Sieger, who was also a passenger on the flight. “I thought it was very appropriate that we do the last takeoff in a World War II training aircraft. It was a great opportunity."
As soon as the plane left the ground, construction workers immediately began working on removing the runway’s pavement with a milling machine. When the pavement is finally removed, Runway 11-29 will be turned into a new taxiway, and Runway 06-24 will serve as the airport’s main runway.
The project was initially supposed to be completed by January 2018 but is now set to be finished by the end of this November, Sieger said.
Including the construction of the new runway and the installation of a storm water drainage system and LED lighting, the project cost about $12.2 million.
The Texan was flown by Sieger’s friend, Ocala resident Jon Rising, a pilot for JetBlue with almost 30 years of aviation experience.
“(When you think of) the number of people that have used that runway for business, for fun, for training, for everything, to be the last guy that gets to use it is pretty humbling,” Rising said. “I’ve used it a lot, but I never thought I’d be the last guy that gets to use it.”