PARIS – The security system at the airstrip of Oxford County Regional Airport has become a big headache for pilots and needs to be updated.

That’s the opinion of Robert Betz, head of facility maintenance and security for Oxford Aviation Inc., which operates an aircraft refinishing business from the county’s airport hangars in Oxford.

Betz wrote a letter outlining his concerns to commissioners, and on Tuesday, Commissioner Albert “Jim” Carey Jr. said it’s time to address the problem.

Betz said the system allows each pilot to have a separate lock on the main vehicle entrance. Currently there are 10 locks on the gate, and Betz said he doesn’t even know who owns two of the locks.

Because of the multiple locks, irate pilots have called Betz at home on several occasions, saying they’ve been locked out by another pilot. At least three pilots have changed or added locks without leaving a spare key at the Oxford Aviation office, and on other occasions, the gates have been left unlocked.

Several times, visiting pilots who come and go on Sunday, when Oxford Aviation is closed, have been unable to get out and had tried to climb the fence.

“One such attempt to climb the fence resulted in torn trousers and a minor cut,” Betz wrote to commissioners.

Betz suggested the county install an electric gate that is activated with a swipe card issued to pilots who need access to their planes. An electric gate remains open briefly and then automatically shuts by itself, he said.

Carey said the issue deserved immediate attention by the county. “I think something should be done about this, I really do,” he said, holding up Betz’s letter.

Commissioner Steve Merrill said the Airport Advisory Committee, reformed in June, could look into the possibility of grant funding to pay for an electronic gate system. Administrative Assistant Carole Mahoney said such a system would cost $31,250 and is part of long-term recommendations in the airport master plan. She said there’s no funding for a gate system available right now from either the state or the Federal Aviation Administration.

Commissioner Fred Kennard said advisory committee member Al Bancroft could be able to offer some good advice, since he owns a contracting company and is familiar with security systems.


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