SHERIDAN – A Citation X medium-size jet aircraft cruised to a perfect landing Wednesday as officials gathered to open an extended runway at the John Nalbone Sr. Field, formerly known as the Dunkirk Airport.
One-thousand extra feet of length and 100 feet wide, the new extension makes it safer for small modern jets to land at the airport located east of the City of Dunkirk. Dunkirk Aviation, founded by the late John Nalbone, operates the facility. His son, Louis, said he wished his father could have seen the completion of the new runway. The senior Nalbone trained pilots in World War II and was an active pilot and flight instructor well into his 80s.
The $4.2 million project received 90 percent of its funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation. New York State and the local county government contributed the remaining 10 percent of the project.
County Executive Vince Horrigan, who was a U.S. Air Force pilot, said he believes the airport is a vital part of the infrastructure of the county.
“Aviation will be one of the key aspects to the growth of our county,” said Horrigan. He said the expansion of the runway was important to local corporations and commented that nearby Nestle Purina uses the location frequently.
The reconstruction and extension of the runway involved the purchase of some private property and the relocation of Newell Road in the Town of Sheridan. Local and state officials, along with their representatives, participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the tarmac.
Several private planes are stored at the airport, which also hires out airplanes and has a flight instruction staff.