By Jimmy Settle
February 17, 2011
Aviation use of Outlaw Field Airport is up 25 percent from a year ago, and much of that increase is attributed to a spike in corporate jets coming in and out of Clarksville, rather than small aircraft.
That was the encouraging message Wednesday evening from Jerry Clark, vice chairman of the Clarksville-Montgomery County Regional Airport Authority.
Meeting at the Courthouse, Airport Authority members heard about progress in increasing aviation traffic and building a new airport terminal, while finding new revenue streams through in-house fuel sales coming soon.
It’s a board confronted by a whole myriad of issues. In some cases, they are good problems to have because they indicate growth.
At the same time, the Authority needs the nearby Bi-County Convenience Center to find a new home, farther away than the current Tiny Town Road location, because it could draw wildlife that endangers aviation traffic, ranging from birds to deer.
Earlier this week during the informal session of the Montgomery County Commission, Ron Whitford, Airport Authority chairman, foretold that the airport will begin an in-house fuel service soon, with the goal of generating a revenue stream to help make the airport financially self-sufficient.
Whitford reiterated that corporate air traffic has increased dramatically at Outlaw Field, and that, combined with fuel sales and a better terminal facility, means the Airport Authority is laying the groundwork for a self-sustaining and active future. It all comes at a time when Clarksville’s industrial portfolio is being dramatically enhanced with the arrival of Hemlock Semiconductor LLC.
Outlaw Field has long been seen as a major component of the business recruitment package for Clarksville-Montgomery County, but has been in need of major upgrades to meet its potential, local leaders maintain.
Other Airport Authority members praised Wednesday for laying the groundwork for major improvements at the North Clarksville airport include James Halford, treasurer, and members Charles Hand and Gary Mathews. Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn Bowers said the airport is taking flight in a way that reflects the growth of this community.
“Just having the old terminal torn down and seeing the temporary terminal in place is good to see,” Bowers said.
Airport Manager John Ferguson, observing his six-month anniversary in the post, thanked Authority members for their energy and backing as the group looks ahead to an active year.
“We’ll start selling fuel March 1, taking over that aspect of the business from Montgomery County Aero. The fuel provider will be AVFuel, which is a very reputable company that concentrates specifically on aviation fuels,” Ferguson said.
Clark told the group the site for the new terminal, including the pad subgrade, looks very “good, clean and neat.”
“Given the kind of weather we’ve had, we’ve made great progress,” he said.