January 3, 2012 By: Blake Farmer
Smaller airports are showing the first glimmers of a rebound in Middle Tennessee. Smaller airports are watching a rise in their key indicator – fuel sales.
The Metro Nashville Airport Authority gives some of the credit to student pilots.
Instructor Randy Harmon lands a twin engine plane at Nashville’s John C. Tune Airport.
“We’re in a descent and we’re lining up for our final approach back into John Tune.”
Randy Harmon has been teaching a lot more people to land at the John C. Tune Airport in the last few months. He started his flight school and charter service in 2007. Then general aviation around the country tanked, along with much of the economy.
“You think about times to really start trying to grow, pick 2008, 2009 – challenging. But we did alright. We started setting records in flying out here this year.”
Charters have picked up too. Harmon says businessmen are finding it harder to take day trips on commercial airlines to cities like Mobile or Little Rock. For less than $1,500 roundtrip, Harmon’s single engine planes can carry three passengers even to a big city like Atlanta, fuel included.
Tune sold more fuel this fall than it had in at least the last six years. The Smyrna Airport also reports a bounce back to 2007 levels. The uptick in flying time hasn’t yet trickled down to airplane manufacturers. A trade group reports general aviation aircraft shipments have decreased every year since 2007. The latest figures from the FAA also show general aviation remains down nationally.