With Horace Williams Airport on the brink of closure once again, both the speaker pro tempore of the Undergraduate Senate and student club Carolina General Aviation are trying to save the historic institution.
UNC’s undergraduate senate will hold a full senate meeting Tuesday, where a resolution in support of the airport is expected to be introduced by Speaker Pro Tempore Kennith Echeverria.
Echeverria said that a driving cause for his resolution is that North Carolina is the birthplace of aviation, and therefore students should have the ability to explore the field. He heard about Carolina General Aviation’s goal and wanted to put the support of student government behind keeping Horace Williams Airport alive.
“Well, I think the airport has a rich history and I think that it benefits not only our local community here in Chapel Hill and statewide, but I also think it benefits Carolina students – I know that the aviation club allows students to go on a flying trip and I think that that is just exceedingly beneficial,” Echeverria said.
The club, founded in 2016, is seeking $5,111.60 to operate three flying events for its members to participate in flying around UNC and the Triangle.
Founder and vice president of Carolina General Aviation Daniel Schwartz has been interested in flying since he was a kid, and started Carolina General Aviation to connect with other students interested in aviation. He said that the Board of Trustees is hoping to have the Horace Williams Airport emptied by May 1.
“As a club we’re trying to support the airport and do everything we can to convince the powers at bay to keep it open and not only that, but to rejuvenate the facility so it can be used by a student organization – I don’t think in the history of the airport has there ever been student support for it, so we're hoping to make a difference,” Schwartz said.
Undergraduate Senate Finance Chair Rachel Augustine said that this semester, there is about $100,000 available in funding for student organizations, and that for further funding Carolina General Aviation would have to reapply every semester for a specified amount that they are requesting.
“The goal is to give as much as we physically can, that doesn’t mean that we necessarily will – I can’t think of an example where we’ve given anyone zero dollars recently, except when an organization asks for stuff that we literally cannot fund, which has happened before,” Augustine said.
Carolina General Aviation member Trevor Brownlow has been flying in light aircraft since he was 14 years old. He also said that through funding for flying, many students could have their first experience with general aviation.
“I think regardless of approval (for funding) we’ll still continue to generate interest and enjoy a healthy amount of support amongst students, because aviation is a timely and deep subject that I think everyone can appreciate, due to its economic benefit to communities and countries, due to its relevance to how we live and work and just due to its fascination as a subject,” Brownlow said.
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