Pilots Abruptly Asked to Leave Wayne Johnson Silver Bay Airport

Pilots are now searching for a spot at other local airports within one hundred miles, but are only adding to a lengthy waiting list.

SILVER BAY, Min.- The airport in Silver Bay is now shut down after what city officials are calling an abrupt inspection by MnDot due to safety concerns. Nearly one dozen pilots are being asked to leave the Wayne Johnson Silver Bay Airport immediately and are not allowed to fly back in.

The Wayne Johnson Silver Bay Airport is basically silent these days.

“I got a call late in the evening that was told airplanes should be out as soon as possible,” local pilot Robert Mordini said.

MnDot officials shut down the airport last Thursday saying the runway’s condition became too unsafe and now nearly a dozen pilots here have been given a one ticket to takeoff and never come back.

“Where am I going to go?” Mordini said.  “There is no hanger space anywhere else.”

“FAA gave us virtually no notice so we could have the courtesy to contact our pilots to give them a warning and help them,” Silver Bay Mayor Scott Johnson said.

Mayor Scott Johnson tells us, it was nearly 8 months ago when MnDot warned the city that the airport was in rough conditions.

“It was completely unexpected,” Mayor Johnson said.

But did you ever feel not putting in any work to that airport while it was deteriorating that there would be a day when this came?

“I will say other than the lack of warning this was inevitable,” Mayor Johnson said.

The Silver Bay Airport started to decorate nearly a decade ago, you can see the cracks and shifts in the runway. Now I’m driving along the runway only going 40 miles an hour and you can feel the bumps and the shaking significantly, imagine landing an airplane going 100 miles per hour down these conditions

“The attitude is that the airport is a nuisance,” Mordini said.

Mayor Johnson wishes the airport could stay open through funds outside of the city.

It was Back in 2010 when the city stopped investing in the airport other than daily operations, like grounds crew, which meant federal grants were no long an option.

Parks and rec quotes

The federal FAA grants would give out 90 percent as long as there’s a 10 percent buy back from the city.

“We did not want to take those grants on that basis,” Mayor Johnson said.

Meanwhile local pilots relying on the runway…

“Always something more could have been done,” Mordini said.

Believe there are other options not being considered by the city that would not include taxpayer dollars.

“If the airport was promoted more or more activities here you’d sell more fuel, tickets to fly in, it’s not being promoted,” Mordini said.

Pilots are now searching for a spot at other local airports within one hundred miles, but are only adding to a lengthy waiting list.

“Grand Marie is thriving, Two Harbors is thriving,” Mordini said.

The closure of Silver Bay airport is costing the city nearly $600,000 plus administration fees for closing. The city declined to comment on the amount of fees.

“I can’t fly now because I got no place to go, so I’m going to lose time and skills, once I leave I can’t come back,” Mordini said.

“You don’t know what you’re missing until you fly,” Mordini said.

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