For The Norman Transcript
OKLAHOMA CITY —
Three central Oklahoma communities recently learned that the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission had approved their requests for state help to fund various infrastructure projects at their local airports.
Chandler, Pauls Valley and Goldsby were awarded Capital Improvement Program (CIP) grants totaling $1.46 million. The grants help Oklahoma communities improve their local airports by funding certain infrastructure projects such as runway and taxiway construction, airfield signage purchases, and terminal and navigation equipment upgrades.
“We are pleased that we can assist these communities in making their airports better and safer for the flying public,” Aeronautics Commission Director Victor Bird said. “A community’s airport is their gateway to the world, providing their citizens and businesses access to destinations and markets throughout the state and nation – and, in many instances, the world. Airports are truly economic engines.”
The Commission is helping fund the construction of parallel taxiway system at David Jay Perry Airport in Goldsby with a $66,000 CIP grant. Officials said similar to the situation at Pauls Valley Airport, aircraft at David Jay Perry Airport currently use the runway to taxi, which has resulted in aircraft having to wait on the main apron while aircraft are either taking off or landing. The new parallel taxiway will dramatically reduce any chances of an accident occurring as a result of an incursion onto the runway.
State aviation officials indicated that in order for the new parallel taxiway system to meet current FAA standards, the apron will need to be reconfigured. That project involves relocating the fuel tanks and the main hangar, which also doubles as the public terminal building.
In addition to the $66,000 state grant, federal grants totaling nearly $1.2 million and a $66,000 matching grant from the Town of Goldsby will pay for the entire taxiway project.
Despite its small size, Goldsby’s airport is one of the most active in the state with 56 based aircraft and is often used as a reliever for OU’s Max Westheimer Airport in Norman. GCBS Enterprises, Discover Land, LLC and Tip Top Tree Service are just some of the names of locally owned businesses that use the airport to improve their bottom line.
Chandler received the largest grant of nearly $897,000, which will be used to overlay the runway at Chandler Regional Airport with a new layer of asphalt. The city is contributing another $47,000 in matching funds as well as $38,000 in repairs prior to the overlay.
Aviation officials said that the airport pavement is experiencing mild to severe cracking due to a combination of seasonal weathering over the many years and stress from the weight of aircraft landing and taking off. The overlay will significantly reduce the amount of water that will seep through the pavement, which should extend the life of the pavement, they said.
Chandler Regional Airport currently has six based aircraft, five of which belong to Chandler (U.S.A.), Inc., an insurance holding company headquartered in Chandler. Company flight operations director Rick Gladden said two of those aircraft are business jets.
“In my opinion, we would not be in Chandler if it were not for the airport that enables us to use our jet aircraft,” said Gladden, adding that the company is making a concerted effort to bring in additional aircraft to the airport, with plans to build more hangars to accommodate the growth.
“Flying business aircraft allows us to operate our business more efficiently which, in turn, positively impacts our bottom line,” Gladden said.
Chandler (U.S.A.), Inc., formerly LaGere, Walkingstick Insurance Agency and the parent company of National American Insurance Company, is one of the top employers in Lincoln County, employing approximately 250 people who live in and around the city of Chandler. The company provides property and casualty insurance in various industries across the U.S., but mainly in Oklahoma and Texas.
Pauls Valley Municipal Airport will use a $106,000 CIP grant from the Aeronautics Commission to supplement $1.7 million in federal funds to build a new parallel taxiway system. The City of Pauls Valley will also chip in about $94,000 in matching funds for the taxiway project.
Officials pointed out that the airport’s shorter, secondary runway is currently used by aircraft to taxi back and forth from the terminal and hangars to the main runway. The new standard parallel taxiway will provide a safer environment for pilots. During and after construction, the secondary runway will be shut down for good, leaving just the 5,000 foot runway.
The Aeronautics Commission has awarded $2.7 million in capital improvement grants thus far in fiscal year 2014 to airports that are part of the State System of Airports. The state system is comprised of 110 public airports, including 49 regional business airports located throughout the state. Forty-three of those 49 airports boast jet-capable runways of at least 5,000 feet in length, which can accommodate almost any type of business jet.