T.P. McCampbell Airport Essential to Local Economy
December 18, 2009
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  • By Michael Cary

    Dan Horne of Portland is a trial attorney who travels the state frequently to conduct his legal business.

    Ed Block owns rental properties in the Dallas area, but he resides in Rockport.

    Both men frequently fly their personal aircraft in their line of work.

    And both men keep their airplanes in hangars at T.P. McCampbell Airport in San Patricio County.

    “People need to do business and do it now, and they can come directly here,” said Block, citing McCampbell as a preferred alternative to long lines and delays at Corpus Christi International Airport.

    “From T.P. McCampbell, business executives would go directly to their place of business, with no waiting in lines and you’re not fighting traffic on the highway,” he explained.

    T.P. McCampbell Airport has been used by big name entertainers, such as country music artist Alan Jackson, when he performs concerts in Corpus Christi.

    The U.S. Navy uses the airport’s runway for sight readings in its jet and helcopter training flights.

    And most recently, the Texas Department of Public Safety has leased space for its drug enforcement helicopter crew at T.P. McCampbell Airport.

    With a 5,000-ft. long runway that easily accommodates jet airplane traffic and offers competitive rates and truck-mounted fueling, T.P. McCampbell Airport provides a critical transportation base for the local economy.

    “The larger jets are business-owned. They bring in engineering staff and mid- to upper-level management. They can get in here, get it done and get out,” Block said.

    “This little airport serves general aviation as well as anywhere else,” he said.

    With such companies as China’s TPC building a steel pipe manufacturing plant in the Gregory-Portland area and with Kiewit, Gulf Marine and other offshore equipment manufacturers traveling in and out of the Coastal Bend area, namely San Patricio County, McCampbell Airport has become a major asset to economic development – and jobs – in the region.

    “This is a great diamond in the area, and it allows for economic expansion in San Patricio County and the surrounding counties. In the big picture, an airport really is a tool for the infrastructure,” Horne said.

    With numerous hangars already in place, a new apron (tarmac) under construction outside the airport terminal, and space for expansion, T.P. McCampell Airport is more than ready to accommodate the future.

    “There is a long-range plan to extend the runway another 1,000 feet, that’s more of a long-term goal,” said Jim Price, San Patricio County Commissioner, who also is a pilot.

    With the Federal Aviation Administration and the Texas Department of Transportation funding such improvements, the cost to the county would be minimal, Price said.

    Currently, however, the airport’s 5,000 ft. runway can accommodate larger jets such as the Boeing 737, of which there are 6,000 in production.

    Price said the 737 are the size aircraft that Southwest Airlines, for example, flies to transport passengers, although McCampbell Airport does not intend to compete with CC International for that sort of business.

    “I don’t envision building facilities for passenger aircraft, but we support a lot of area industries. Kiewit’s jet lands here, and we’re negotiating constantly to attract corporate aircraft in here,” Price said.

    “We’re selling a lot of fuel to Gulf Marine fabricators, they have a big King Air that comes in two or three times a week. It is a super good runway, fuel is cheap and we accommodate pilots in every way possible,” the commissioner explained.

    San Patricio County also has approved a courtesy car for McCampbell Airport clients who might have a meeting in Corpus Christi and who would only be in the area for a couple of hours, thus avoiding the added expense of renting a car.

    Price said the idea for a regional airport in the Aransas Pass and Ingleside area came about in the 1980s. The early 1990s saw construction of an airport hangar, and eventually the hangars were built for a profit by Aransas Pass resident Jack Robinson, who has since relocated to Galveston.

    “We have 25 acres available for expansion,” Price said.

    Another advantage that T.P. McCampbell Airport has over the Corpus Christi International Airport is the ability to get to and from area destinations.

    “The thing is when you leave the airport, you have one stop at Hwy. 35, and you never stop again until you are in downtown Corpus, that makes it a real asset,” Price said.

    Date: 2009-12-16