September 11, 2001 11:00 pm

The national disaster that closed all American airports Tuesday marked the first time that the Union County Airport has closed in recent memory, except in poor weather conditions.

The airport remained closed this morning. It was not known when it would reopen.

Dennis Spray, the countys general services director, said he was first informed about the air space closure at 8 a.m. Tuesday. At that time, flights were limited to military, police and search and rescue. About noon Spray received word from the Federal Aviation Administration that all civilian flights were prohibited. Air activity was limited to military craft and aircraft fighting fires in the West.

Any emergency flights, such as medical, were required to apply for permission from the FAA before taking off.

Federal Express, UPS and bank deliveries were not made in Union County Tuesday. The closure also grounded Air Life, the emergency medical transport system.

Kathy Weber of Grande Ronde Hospital said that Air Life was deciding, on a case-by-case basis, whether to notify FAA of the need to fly a patient.

Banking in Union County was not seriously affected and Mike Oagen, the data processing manager for Pioneer Bank, said that winter weather occasionally closes the airport.

People expecting checks that may be delivered by air could see a delay, and information about checks clearing through other banks will be late, Oagen said.

Banks made arrangements for ground transport Tuesday.