By WECT Staff | March 30, 2021 at 2:08 PM EDT – Updated March 30 at 11:51 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Officials at Wilmington International Airport released a statement on Tuesday over “recent concerns” from the surrounding community due to an increased level of military activity, as well as noise, at the airport.
ILM officials say they’re obligated to the federal government to let military aircraft use the airport, free of charge.
This is mainly due to ILM accepting federal funds and the Surplus Property Act of 1944. After World War II, the federal government gifted the airport, previously known as Bluethenthal Field, to New Hanover County, with the stipulation that all government aircraft would be allowed to use the airport.
“Today, military jets use the approach to ILM as training for approaching civilian fields as they would in forward deployed areas,” according to the statement from ILM. “The military may also choose to refuel on airport grounds.”
One of ILM’s tenants, Modern Aviation, is a “fixed-base operator” and has a contract with the government to refuel military aircraft.
As for the increase in noise, ILM officials say the military is exempt from Federal Aviation Administration noise and 1000-foot height regulations.
“As they train for the defense of our country, they do their best to minimize disruptions,” the statement read.
For some people, the signs of military activity is comforting.
“I like to see the planes go by. It means they are working, and they are active, and they are being trained and will be ready to protect us when we need the military,” said Wilmington resident Michael Goins.
However, the activity and noise has had some residents concerned.
“All that’s going on in our county and the world right now it’s a bit disturbing because you’ve got all that in the back of your head all the time, and it does seem like they are more frequent lately than what they usually are and that’s a bit disturbing and unnerving as well,” said Wilmington resident Doris Lavere.
ILM said the public could contact their public safety office at 910-341-4336 to find out which military base is currently using the airport and offered contact information for the bases:
- Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point area noise abatement hotline: 252-466-1092
- Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort community hotline: 843-228-6229
- Marine Corps Air Station New River phone line: 910-449-6311
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