Jekyll Island Shrimp and Grits Festival – Airport Closed!

After a hectic week, we had planned to fly to Jekyll Island (09J) this weekend and hang out at the Shrimp and Grits Festival.

Jekyll Island is a small island off the southeast coast of Georgia, and is just a 45 minute flight from our home base. There is a 3,000 ft strip on the west side of the island that I have landed at many times, and it’s very convenient to the entire island.

As I am doing some flight planning on DUATS I came across this:

Jekyll Island GA [09J]: September NOTAM #176 issued by Macon GA [MCN]
Aerodrome closed effective from September 14th, 2012 at 12:00 PM EDT (1209141600) – September 17th, 2012 at 08:00 AM EDT (1209171200)

Really? They closed the airport? I called the Jekyll Island Chamber of Commerce and Business Development and was indeed told that the airfield was shut down for the entire weekend to accommodate overflow automobile parking. She mentioned that we were welcome to fly into St. Simon’s Island (SSI) to the north, and take a 45 minute cab ride to the festival.

We have flown into many events before, including the Cedar Key Seafood Festival, Marathon, Florida Seafood Festival and the Amelia Island Concourse d’Elegance. I don’t think I can remember a single instance where the locals closed an entire airport for parking.

Legally I’m not sure how they can close the airport. Jekyll Island has accpeted FAA grant money in the past and must keep the airport open “in a safe and serviceable condition” until at least 2022. The authority has accepted more than $895,000 in federal grant money.

Great move Jekyll business leaders. I let the lady at the Chamber of Commerce office know that it really does not make much sense to promote a festival, and then make it difficult for a segment of people with discretionary income from attending your event.


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