Plans are in the works to celebrate the completion of a taxiway rehabilitation and realignment project at the McPherson Airport.
McPherson Airport Manager Cynthia Peterson said the project is a little behind schedule due to the weather, but is progressing well.
“Everything’s testing at or beyond the parameters for what it needs to be,” Peterson said. “...we’re looking forward to having it done.”
While the airport hopes to have an open house in late October to mark the end of the project, several others are already lined up for next year.
The most pressing concern is the repair of several uneven areas on the airport’s concrete runway.
“It’s not anything dangerous but we want to get it nipped in the bud before it gets that way,” Peterson said.
Another issue Peterson is keeping an eye on, is the construction of wind turbines that could encroach on the airport’s approach zones.
“It’s a very real concern,” Peterson said.
When obstacles are within an airport’s approach zone — such as trees, radio towers or any other structure that changes wind patterns — they can force pilots to choose a steeper approach and departure as they take off and land.
“We’ve had a long history of an excellent safety record here and I’d like to continue that,” Peterson said.
Too many obstacles would cause pilots to avoid using the airport altogether, and could even put Federal Aviation Administration funding in jeopardy.
Peterson said she wants to make sure the money invested in the airport ensures it stays available for public use.
“We want our airport open for people to enjoy,” Peterson said.
The airport serves a vital purpose in McPherson by allowing people to be transported during medical emergencies. It is also a convenient spot for recreational flyers. Not only do area pilots fly in and out — pilots of all sorts of aircraft from all over North America choose McPherson’s airport to stop at a convenient mid-point.
“We get a lot of interesting cross-country traffic,” Peterson said.
There are also a number of pilots and passengers who come to the airport for business purposes and the occasional military helicopter that touches down. Keeping the dollars those people spend on meals and lodging in the city is also a priority for Peterson.
Hangar rentals — for which there is a lengthy waiting list — are also a major source of income for the airport and could be expanded in the future.
“There’s a real shortage of space for people to store their aircraft,” Peterson said. “...We want to make some preparations to approach that problem and investigate what might be a good thing to pursue.”
Whether for business or pleasure, planes are being owned and flown by a wide range of people.
“Our main mission here, other than accommodating travelers of all kinds who use aircraft, is training,” Peterson said.
The airport’s instructors currently have 10 students — from teenagers to senior citizens — who are learning to take to the skies.
“This is a great place for the next generation of aviation professionals to be exposed to what’s possible,” Peterson said.
In the next year or so, the airport is slated to have new landscaping and signage put in.
“At some point, our parking lot’s going to be redone,” Peterson said.
Other projects in the future could include the painting of murals, new runway lighting and youth education programs.
“It all takes time and money. There’s a lot more going on out here than people realize,” Peterson said.
For more information about the McPherson Airport and ways you can volunteer, visit www.mcphersonairport.com or call 620-241-0684.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at email@example.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.