A plea for change at the airport

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 18, 2015

I will never forget the night I got the news my dad’s airplane had crashed. I was living in a two-bedroom apartment with my three children, and my sister-in-law’s mother and father arrived at my doorstep to stay with the kids while I rushed to the hospital.

I was allowed to enter the emergency rooms where both my father and his brother, Uncle Archie, were being treated. Dad was conscience and instructing me to go and check on his brother.

I rushed into the room next door.

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The scene of the hospital staff working desperately to save my uncle will never, EVER leave my memory.

I returned to Dad’s room and lied about the condition of his brother. I knew it didn’t look good.

Later that evening, Archie was pronounced dead, and my father was transported to Jackson where he remained for almost a year at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the Mississippi Methodist Rehabilitation Center.

He had sustained a spinal cord injury, and shortly after the accident he had surgery and was on a ventilator fighting for his own life.

I was fortunate that my dad lived, but the injuries he sustained have been life altering for him and my mom.

Dad’s plane crashed was at the Vicksburg Municipal Airport at 10:30 p.m., Feb. 8, 1995.

He and my uncle were both seasoned pilots, and according to reports the plane was flying parallel to U.S. 61 South as it approached the airport and hit treetops less than a mile from the runway, sheering the prop and causing the plane to loose power.

Along with Uncle Archie, Dad was thrown from the plane, and because of the trauma to his body, he has no recollection of the accident.

On Feb. 16, just eight days after the accident, a letter to the editor appeared in the Vicksburg Evening Post submitted by Gary L. Estes.

Estes cited the deadly accident involving my dad and uncle along with another accident that occurred at the airport just three weeks earlier that had not been publicized.  He asked the city administration how many more deaths or injuries need to occur before the airport would be closed and Vicksburg would throw all of its support to the new airport in Mound, La.

Estes wrote, “I’ve flown off the Vicksburg airport as a profession pilot for 14 years. Night approaches to either end of the runway require a much steeper angle than should be needed. The danger is increased for larger and faster aircraft (ie. Most corporate aircraft, turboprops, Lear jets, etc.)”

I know everyone does not have as much of a personal and subjective attitude towards the airport as I do. I do not wish for anyone else to stand in a bloody emergency room praying like crazy that everything would be okay like I did that tragic night.

But as responsible citizens of this community, fiscally it makes no sense for us to continue to allocate monies for two airports. For those stomping for it to remain open because it could help persuade industry to move here, wake up!

I haven’t seen swarms of industry vying for a space on U.S. 61 South because there is an airport. Maybe the projected sports complex would offer a better opportunity for growth.  Let us give something else a chance, something that many more people will directly enjoy and utilize.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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