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Residents Say Airport Invites Too Much Traffic

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CHAPEL HILL — A weekend plane crash is causing concern over the safety of Chapel Hill's Horace Williams Airport. This time around no one was seriously injured, but neighbors say they don't want to wait for a tragedy before changes are made.

Airport opponents say the mission of Horace Williams Airport has changed so much that it is now dangerous to the people who live around it. It was originally designed for UNC business only, but it now serves a variety of clients and traffic.

Pilots say its a convenient airport. UNC is planning a Wednesday meeting to talk about it. The airport may look harmless, but many recent incidents have caused local residents to think otherwise.

This weekend, the pilot of an experimental plane crash landed near the airport, very near youth football players on the field at a middle school. Back in February, a plane based in Illinois crash landed at the airport. Three people were hurt.

"People have always worried about the safety, especially of the densely populated neighborhoods and the schools, but now the school board is into this in a more serious way," says airport opponent Diane Bloom. "The mayor and parents of the school children-- it seems like a wake up call to be able to do something before there is a tragedy."

Airport opponents point out that there have been 18 air related deaths since 1981. Still pilots say it's a safe and convenient air field in their eyes. The airport advisor board, a coalition of university officials and citizens, is schedule to meet Thursday afternoon. Opponents plan to push to have the airport shut down.

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Mark Roberts, Reporter
Edward Wilson, Photographer
Kerrie Hudzinski, Web Editor

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