Stillwater airport spreads its wings
August 6, 2013
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  • STILLWATER, Okla. — Ideas and plans might be flying around more than the aircrafts at Stillwater Regional Airport.

    Stillwater’s airport is looking to expand in many areas.

    The airport is trying to get more hangar projects, upgrade its security, keep its air traffic control tower from being closed and the airport is also getting ready for a National Intercollegiate Flying Association event.

    The first thing the airport is looking to improve is hangar space and it hired LBR Inc. Airport Consultants to survey land for possible hangar space.

    Airport Director Gary Johnson said this is important because there is a high demand for hangar space.

    The hangar space would help the Stillwater community and Oklahoma State University, too, Johnson said.

    There is a waiting list for hangar space.

    The problem with hangar space, especially at smaller airports like Stillwater’s, is the cost of the hangars can’t exceed what can be made on the rent for the space. This is why Johnson believes a public-private partnership is the answer because the public-private partners could build hangars more cheaply, he said.

    “There are ways and things private developers can do cheaper than the government can,” Johnson said. “We are hoping everything works out and we get more hangars because we need them.”

    The airport wants to improve security, access control equipment and also its surveillance around the airport, Johnson said.

    Security approvements are moving forward and Johnson said hopes to have something going within 90 days.

    One of the bigger things the airport has been trying to do is keep its air traffic control tower from being shut down.

    With sequestration, the federal government was looking to cut 75 percent of control towers and funding to those towers, Johnson said.

    The government planned to close 183 towers, but after significant lobbying, from others and Johnson, the plan was whittled down to 149 towers, Johnson said.

    Even though the airport survived being cut, it has a bright future and will play host to the region six National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s competition.

    Eight regional teams from Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma will come to Stillwater in October to attempt qualification for the national competition. The top three teams go  to nationals.

    The Stillwater Regional Airport will team with the OSU Flying Aggies and OSU’s aviation program to run the event.

    Johnson said it is a honor to hold this event and this has made three or four times it has been held in Stillwater.

    Johnson said he hopes and believes the airport will hold a national competition someday.