Albany-- Small aircraft are being diverted to the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport from parts of Florida to avoid Hurricane Frances.
It's a lot busier there than normal. The number of airplanes expected are more than the Albany airport has seen in quite a long time. According to air traffic control, about 85 small airplanes are parked on the ramp already, and more are on the way.
In fact, there is not enough room to accommodate all the pilots who want to tie down their airplanes here. Already, every open hanger and tie down at the Albany Airport has been reserved.
"Most pilots go ahead and call ahead because they know these airports fill up quickly so move on to other airports where they can fit in at, they might even be going to Dawson," said Airport Director Yvette Aehle.
As far as we know, Florida airspace is not closed down yet, but pilots are being cautious, as are the air traffic controllers. Now, as far as the Dawson Airport is concerned, they have tie-downs available. They don't take reservations, it is first come first serve. But, they haven't seen nearly as much air traffic as in Albany; only a handful of planes have flown in there because of Frances.
The Albany airport makes about 7 cents per gallon of fuel sold, but the Fixed Based Operator, Piedmont-Hawthorne, will really profit. A small aircraft, like a Cessna, can hold 80 to 100 gallons of fuel, at $3.99 a gallon.
Jacksonville air traffic control is in charge of diverting planes in our area.