The actions — or perhaps more appropriately, the inaction — of officials at the Mount Airy-Surry County Airport this week are disturbing.
Tuesday there was an incident. According to the FAA, which governs air traffic and airports across the United States, a plane landed at the runway without its landing gear being down. Whether that was because of a mechanical malfunction or an error by the pilot remains unknown, because authorities at the airport have refused to talk about the incident.
And that is what is most disturbing.
The airport is at least partially a public entity. It is governed by a board appointed by the Mount Airy and Surry County Boards of Commissioner. The airport, as a public entity in the rather dubious claim of economic development, has seen fit to seize private land via the process of eminent domain in order to expand its runway.
But now, when an incident of public interest, and perhaps public importance, takes place officials there suddenly circle the wagons and refuse to communicate with the public?
The owners of the airplane, Premier Property LLC, of State Road, refused to address the incident, which is their right, just as a car owner doesn’t have to speak publicly after a car wreck.
But the airport officials — particularly manager John Spane — refusing to even take a phone call or address the situation in any way? Refusing any aid from local Emergency Services workers? That’s inexcusable.
At least John Springthorpe, a city resident who serves on the airport board, understood the need and responsibility to address the issue, and we commend him for sharing what he knew of the incident.
In talking publicly about the accident, Springthorpe said the folks involved were likely reticent to speak about it because of the accompanying embarrassment, rather than taking part in any sort of cover-up.
Maybe so, but airport officials have a responsibility to the public, and if they refuse to fulfill that responsibility, we have no choice but to wonder just what is going on there, and why is it being covered up?