A proposed public observation area at Jack Barstow Municipal Airport could help residents connect with Midland’s general aviation airport and learn the science behind flight.
A committee of local pilots and interested residents raised money to create the Midland Community Aviation Discovery Area, which would allow people to watch takeoffs and landings at the airport and learn about what they see.
Jim Cordes, chair of the MCADA committee, said the idea is to make the public feel welcome to come to the airport. He recently presented information about the project to the Midland City Council, which gave permission to construct the area and have it be donated to the city upon completion.
The discovery area would be located west of the current terminal building. A park-like setting would include an airplane body, display boards, tables, a shaded area and more, Cordes said. The displays are expected to focus on aviation themes, the physics of flight, the airport’s layout, aviation communication, airport history and aviation facts. A website is expected to be created to supplement the information.
The area could be used during school visits to bring science, technology, engineering and math topics to life, Cordes said.
“This is entirely funded through foundation grants and private funding,” he said, and additional money will be set aside for ongoing maintenance.
A list of mandatory and priority items to make the project a reality would cost $154,000, Cordes said. To date, the committee has raised $162,600, and additional funds will help pay for optional items. The maintenance fund makes the project a gift to the city with no strings attached, Cordes said.
Brian McManus, Midland city engineer, said the discovery area will be less than one-half of an acre in size. It will be fenced in to keep children from entering the airport grounds and have an elevated observation area.
Jack Barstow Municipal Airport has two runways and more than 500 acres. The airport handles about 20,000 takeoffs and landings each year, McManus said.
The Midland City Council unanimously accepted the gift.
“Well done; it’s very impressive,” Councilman Steve Arnosky said. “It’s very well thought out.”
Councilwoman Diane Brown Wilhelm said it was great to see a tie-in with education, and encouraged involvement with area schools to help students become interested in science-related fields.
Mayor Maureen Donker thanked those involved in making the project a reality, and said she liked seeing the passion they have to connect the community with the city’s airport.
“That says a lot about our community and the difference people make in it,” she said.
Councilman Tom Adams said the community “constantly amazes” him by finding ways to make Midland more appealing.
“There’s a lot of hard work and creative people in this community,” he said.
Cordes said the committee hopes to complete work on the project this year.