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F1 flight plans still up in the air

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Heavy equipment carries even more heavy equipment across Circuit of the Americas. Race day is less than five months away. More than half the track is already paved, but crews have a long road ahead.

But construction crews aren't the only ones racing to get ready for Formula One. Airports throughout Central Texas know air traffic is on its way.

John Koenreich runs Redbird Skyport in San Marcos. He expects his hangars and plane parking area to fill up with private jets come November.

"There is just a huge uptick in traffic in a very short period of time," Koenreich said. "We obviously want to do well for ourselves, but we want to make sure that Austin and the Hill Country really come out shining after this first year. We want to put our best foot forward."

But it may be more difficult at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, especially if any international flights decide to land.

Last week, Austin City Council members shot down a plan to build a $5.5 million temporary customs facility.

"We have charter flights coming in that will be 747s, and 747s are huge, they carry over 200-and-some-odd passengers. We do not have the capacity to handle people through customs in a timely manner," Austin Assistant City Manager Sue Edwards said.

Those who fly to the track by helicopter will be able to land on one of the six helipads on the south side of the grandstands. There will be another two helipads on the north end of the track reserved for StarFlight.

While plans seem up in the air, officials say are grounded in their certainty that everything will be ready come race day.

Cargo jets carrying all of the race cars will land at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The race cars will then be trucked out to the track about three miles east of the airport.

Formula One is an international event. The event in Austin is set for November 16-18.

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