08:59 PM PDT on Friday, July 29, 2011

By KIMBERLY PIERCEALL
The Press-Enterprise

The commander of March Air Reserve Base between Riverside and Moreno Valley was clear: The Air Force doesn’t mind sharing its runway with general aviation flights.

Col. Karl McGregor said the military actually wants the civilian air traffic because it could help defray the costs of operating the airport. He spoke Thursday night at a community meeting organized by Riverside Councilman Paul Davis who represents the Orangecrest neighborhood.

The mood at the meeting was decidedly different from two prior meetings held at the Orange Terrace Community Center that attracted crowds of 40 or 50 neighborhood residents. At those meetings, residents who still had far-from-fond memories of noisy late-night DHL cargo flights that buzzed overhead posed heated questions to the March Joint Powers Authority which has been overseeing redevelopment of former Air Force Base property.

Mistrusting the agency’s efforts to develop a general aviation terminal at the base, especially since the authority can’t legally limit the time of day that flights land or depart at the airport, residents had said they feared a host of issues that would come with opening the base to more private flying. Among them were: aircraft noise, accidents and the potential for terrorist acts since the base is shared with the military.

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