Wear Your Best Hat: March of Dimes, A Night Through The Looking Glass

Wear your best hat, because this is an event that you and your guests will be talking about for a long time.

This August 29 enjoy an evening of fine dining and entertainment while benefiting the March of Dimes’ mission of preventing health defects, premature birth and infant mortality. The evening, presented by 5th Gear Creative Group and Magnum Property Management begins with a three-course meal and wine hosted by a participating restaurant.

“Enjoy a night filled with a three-course dinner from one of the area’s premier restaurants followed by an amazing party at Edgewater Beach Resort. The party will have dancing, food, drinks, entertainment and wonderful prizes. One lucky person will walk away as the winner of a 1-carat diamond donated by Coins and Bouillon Reserves. Join us for hedgehog golf, martini bar, music by Jim Lawson, and lots of other fun activities. Your table purchase allows you to choose the restaurant (first come-first choice) where your party of 10 will have a wonderful three-course meal and three bottles of wine. Then you move on to Edgewater where the fun really begins! You will walk through the looking glass and enter a fantasy world based on the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland. Desserts, fun drinks, martini glasses filled with diamonds, Wii Golf, a hat contest, and other activities. But, the best part is you are helping to save babies by supporting the Bay County March of Dimes. Gather your friends, associates, or employees, put on your fanciest hat and enjoy the evening!”

Participating Restaurants include:

Schooner’s

Boatyard

Breaker’s

Angelina’s

Spinnaker Cantina

Triple J’s

Calypso’s

Carrabba’s

Ferrucci Ristorante

For more information please go to http://www.lookingglasspc.com. To purchase a table email Kim Tatum ktatum@marchofdimes.com or call 850-785-6460

VIDEO: My Visit to the New Airport Construction Site Answers The Big Question

I’d be willing to bet that fewer people have seen a new airport in its initial construction phases than those who have hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. And being that I’ve already made the hike (Really, I did), I’m certified to say that after touring the new airport site, this $318 million dollar triumph of construction can, in many ways, hold its own against a wonder of the world. I spent the morning touring the site and came to one very clear, incontrovertible conclusion: the new airport will be the catalyst to a Panama City Beach evolution.

I entered the airport through an access gate and drove down a wide 4-lane street which will one day be Panama City Beach’s first impression tourists. It was hardly more than a timberline, but I could see what it will become. I could see the tropical landscaping, palm trees and colorful hibiscus lining the corridor, small hotels, perhaps even resurrection of some PCB classics long closed, there for guests in transition. I could see that street packed with rental cars, big vans, taxis and shuttles transporting happy vacationers.

We reached the first construction trailers that overlooked the mammoth partially completed site. The air smelled of disturbed dirt and diesel fuel and huge tractors flattened the land in every direction. Our plan was simple, take a tour of the runway and head over to the terminal. We met up with Amy Ausley, airport Public Relations, and Bill Holman, Airport Relocation Manager, for our tour.

runwayFirst we drove around the site. Already a number of construction projects whttps://pcbdaily.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=5164&_wp_original_http_referer=http%3A%2F%2Fpcbdaily.com%2Fwp-admin%2Fedit.php&message=1ere in the final phases of their completion. The retention ponds, plumbing and irrigation and much of the electrical neared completion. But what came as a surprise to me was the runway. This huge, 8,400 ft. runway, fully paved and seemingly ready to land a plane of any size, was already in its initial lighting stages. It even had an additional 2,000 ft safety area fitting comfortably into FAA standards, differing entirely from the current airport which isn’t even close to FAA standards at a measly 69 ft of safety area. Looking down the strip of unobstructed pavement I amused two thoughts: 1. having a Lamborghini or a Porsche would be a lot of fun right now and 2. It won’t be long before this is the busiest runway in all of Northwest Florida.

Surrounding the runway was more grass than you could imagine. It was a bit of a shock, but I was told by airport staff that environmental issues were taken seriously. In fact, the DEP fine of $257,000 for environmental damages was taken so seriously by airport staff that there have been talks of in-kind donations of land for mitigation or time on future environmental projects.

We came around the runway and, after spending a few minutes stuck in rain-mud, we hit the terminal where I could not have been more blown away. The parking lot is completely finished needing only a final coat of tar and painting to be ready for business, and as we came upon the massive terminal, a few men worked on the bridge that lead to the passenger unloading area, a sort of gateway to the future. We inched over and could see the airport terminal in its entirety.

run-outsideThe structure was so close to completion, it was easy to imagine it in its final form. All the steel was up and fitted, the roof was over 90% complete and the curbs of the drivelanes were already done. Even architectural aesthetics like huge 100% harvested wood overhangs that will shield passengers from the rain was completed. We stepped inside the open doorway to find much of the interior shaping into its final form as well. Office areas, ticketing counters, baggage and security checking features (which will be fitted with the most elaborate security system to date) and administrative areas were quite visible, the whole of it designed like the existing airport only much, much bigger. I could see all the anxious vacationers already, families, spring breakers and all sorts of wayfarers bustling up and down the halls ready to start their getaway to Panama City Beach.

Upstairs were more administrative areas as well as the nearly completed passenger loading areas and gate access. There was enough space for seven total gates more than double what the current airport can house. There were gaping areas for windows and also in the ceiling for sky lights that will literally flood the airport with natural light. Out the window, in the distance the fire safety, storage and maintenance buildings were nearly ready for use. I could also see the imposing control tower, a 12 story 120 ft structure, soon to be topped in metal framing.

interiorAs I walked the gate areas, the realization of the airport’s effect on Panama City Beach struck me profoundly. There have been all sorts of discussion on this topic, even debates started by yours truly, but once I visited the site, I understood. This airport really will change everything. Consider how well Panama City Beach has done for a destination the last 20 years. For such a small place, we’ve done quite well; even now during a recession we continue to do well. All this progress and prosperity, it’s difficult to realize that, truly, PCB development and growth has been choked by the current airport. And it may not be until the first 737 lands that people begin to understand what the new airport will amount to, but rest assured the impact will be gamechanging. And it starts with carriers.

Because New Orleans and Jacksonville are the closest Southwest carriers, and based on their business model, it is very likely Southwest will be Panama City Beach’s low cost carrier. What that simple sounding circumstance translates to is the curing of Panama City Beach’s greatest economic hindrance: the off season. That time of year will be completely transformed by cheap flights inflating a dreary few months into full-on seasonal status. Can you imagine what being a year-round destination will be like? We’d be a mini-Miami. Even if you think of it on a smaller scale, as I toured the incomplete airport, it occurred to me that 737s will carry anywhere from 138-200 people. That is significantly more than the current 74 people on a single flight into the existing airport. That’s double the people arriving at a deeply reduced rate. And that’s not just with Southwest. Our current flagship carrier, Delta, will no longer be limited by the parameters of the existing airport and flight costs will drop making Panama City Beach the most likely landing place for vacationers. No more Tallahassee and no more Pensacola.

The date of completion of the airport will play a major role as well. The airport will be completed around the same time analysts and pundits predict the economy to rebound. Panama City Beach will see a surge of development and increases in capital.

This evolution of Panama City Beach, by way of the new airport, will force certain deflected issues to be seriously discussed. Issues like new improved developments, form-based coding, hospitality training and more. For me, all this had been but talking points, theories and ideas. But when I walked down the massive airport, the area on which it sits and the ease with which vacationers will get to PCB ,it became quite clear to me. Because of the new airport, 10 years from now Panama City Beach will be a completely different place: suddenly feeling much closer to Miami than ever before.

A side note: Before I left the site I stopped by the construction trailer to thank the staff. On the wall there was a big digital clock counting down the time remaining. At the time, the clock read 283 days, 12 hours, 54 minutes, 23 seconds and counting. Everything is on schedule.

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

Video of Environmental Damage at New Airport Site

Having been up there, I was able to take video of the creeks and waterways that serve as the natural water run-off point for the new Panama City Airport.  Again, I was able to see no apparent damage or side-effects of any damage.  However, apparently, after the comments in the other post, I would need to be in a helicopter to observe the claimed negative effects the airport construction site is having on the environment.

How It's Done – Paving a Runway Video

So, I thought it would be cool to shoot a video on  how they paved the runway, and turns out, I was right – it is cool.  Maybe I’m a nerd, but I found it amazing how they brought in the concrete material, then formed it into a beautiful, nearly flawless, 15 inch slab, working many yards in mere minutes.

The dump trucks would pull under a huge loader that would fill its bed with 10 yards of concrete in 2 minutes.  With the time it takes for the truck to stage its position, load and move for the next truck, a truck can be filled every 2.5 minutes.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=3972906&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1
Paving the Runway at the new Panama City Airport from Jason Koertge on Vimeo.

The runway paving process was, I thought, interesting. Consisting of 15 inches of concrete on top of 4 inches of asphalt, the runway will be capable of handling the load of the largest of aircraft.

Each dump truck would back the loads down the asphalt sometimes up to a quarter mile, then dump their load right in front of the first machine.  As the machine worked the pile of concrete to fit under its 15 inch clearance, workers would grab a sample of the concrete with shovels to take back and test.  Each load of concrete was tested to be sure that it met the proper strength requirements.

As the concrete passes under the machine, 1 inch rods comb through the mixture vibrating at a high rate of speed to be sure the mixture compacts.  It exits the other side a basic form, but not smoothed.  The next machine refines the shape, vibrates and compacts more and spits the smoothed almost finished runway out the back end.

The main 8,600 feet of the runway is paved as of right now and upon arrival of the FAA approval of the extension, the remaining 1.400 feet will be paved in about 10 days.

Main Runway is PAVED at New Airport – VIDEO!

That’s right, the approved 8,400 feet of the main runway at the new airport site in Panama City is complete.  With the exception of the center where the runway lights will be installed, they are done.  Approval should come shortly from the FAA for the extension to the full 10,000 feet which will take just over 14 days to complete.

Onsite, they have the capability to produce concrete at the pace of filling a new mixing truck every 2.5 minutes so the actual paving goes pretty quick.  The concrete layer is 15 inches thick and it lays on top of 4 inches of asphalt.  The density is also much greater than the stuff you use to to pour your home’s foundation.

The terminal barely resembles a frame right now but is coming along.  Construction time on the terminal will last almost the duration of the project, along with te air traffic control tower.  The air traffic control tower has 72 piles already installed that reach 45 feet into the earth.  Instead of using pre-cast piles, they used auger-cast piles said Roy Willett, Senior Project Manager of KBR.  Auger-cast piles are set by drilling into the ground, and as the dirt comes up, it is replaced with concrete, all the while placing a steel rebar pole down the middle for reinforcement.  In the video, you can see where the earth movers are digging around the rebar to clear out the top of the pilings.

In my interview with Dr. Ed Wright, stand-in director of the Bay County Economic Development Alliance, it was mentioned that he wasn’t sure if the new airport would need any modifications with regards to turn-radius/taxiway requirements to accommodate the large Airbus A380 or other large cargo aircraft.  Willett confirmed that short of the largest of the Antonov and the largest of the Airforce’s cargo planes, the new airport will be able to accommodate it all with the 10,000 foot runway – turning radii and all.  Awesome, just flat-out awesome.!

I took some great footage this trip, enjoy!

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=3070601&server=vimeo.com&show_title=0&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1
January Airport Construction Update from Jason Koertge on Vimeo.

The Panama City Airport relocation is moving along quickly with the main runway almost completely paved. The prep work has been done for the extension to 10,000 and upon FAA approval, will be complete within a couple weeks. The Terminal is under construction, as well as the air traffic control tower.

Here are the photos.

Video of the New Airport

Well, someone else has outdone me.  There is a new video of the new Panama City airport up in West Bay that has been posted to the newpcairport.com web site.

Of course, I could probably put something together equally as awesome had I been given the opportunity to get on a helicopter!  Kidding, but not really.  Actually, I don’t know how to do those cool transitions – after effects?

Anyway, kudos to the creater – this vid is awesome.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=2826899&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1
Panama City/Bay County Airport Preview from Greg Wineman on Vimeo.

Airport Construction Video Update

The new Panama City Bay County International Airport is flying along with more than 50% of the total work complete and only 40% of the total alotted time used.  This places the hard working teams on site about 3 months ahead of schedule.

Anticipation grows daily as the whole site is in a constant state of change.  I was up there Thursday of last week and it looks totally different from the way it looked just 60 short days ago.

I could tell you more, but you’ll just have to watch the video.

View in HD