The hangars are full, planes fly in and out at all times, and the Dexter Municipal Airport is busy putting together a wish list of things that need to be done.
Members of the Dexter Municipal Airport Board met on Tuesday afternoon to review possible projects for both the near and distant future. And, while some projects need to be started soon, the board is trying to let priorities decide how things go.
“The first thing on our list is an AWOS system,” Dexter City Administrator Mark Stidham explained. “MoDOT Aviation has been wanting us to get that for a while, and that is something we’ve set aside money for.”
AWOS stands for Automated Weather Observing System, and is used for safe and efficient aviation operations, weather forecasting, and climatology. The estimated cost of adding AWOS is $320,000 and it is tentatively scheduled to be completed this year. But, the board has other things to consider as well.
“As of right now, we don’t have any hangars available for rent. They’re all full,” Stidham remarked. “And there’s talk of possibly reopening the cross-winds runway — which would definitely be an asset for the airport and would be helpful for the pilots. What the board needs to do is look at the list of things we want completed and decide what and when we want to do these things.”
Stidham explained that, while the airport is technically part of the city, it is completely self-sustaining and takes no money from the city’s general revenue.
“There’s a fuel tax that’s collected statewide and is allocated to all airports,” Stidham commented. “The funding we get is a 90/10 split. That’s how the runway extension got paid for.”
In order for the cross-wind runway to be opened for use, Stidham said it would need to be resurfaced and painted — which would be a considerable cost.
At Tuesday’s meeting, John Chittenden, engineer with Water Engineering, addressed the estimated costs of the different projects. In addition to the AWOS system, the next project that could be attempted before the end of the year is a hangar area drainage system and pavement rehab.
“The purpose of that is the fact that MoDOT aviation doesn’t like any ditches around the runway,” Stidham explained. “So, we’re going to need to look at setting things up with a drainage system where the ground can be level beyond the runway. We don’t want a pilot to land and end up going into a ditch or anything.”
While these are issues that MoDOT aviation would like to see addressed soon, Stidham said there are other things the board must consider.
“We don’t have a FBO (fixed base operator) at our airport,” Stidham remarked. “An FBO is someone who could service and perform maintenance on planes; and, we miss out on a lot of traffic here because we don’t have one. Pilots from here have to fly to airports in other states to get work done, sometimes. So, if we could get an FBO, I would think that would be a pretty high priority for us.”
Stidham continued to explain that the airport has seen an increase in traffic and stays busy. He attributes the increased partially to the airport having lower-priced fuel than surrounding airports.
“Having cheaper fuel is definitely an asset for us,” Stidham said. “And fixing it so the pilots can just pay at the pump like you would at a gas station has also helped.”
In all, Stidham said he is confident the board will make the best decisions for the airport.
“Everyone on the board is a pilot. I’m not,” Stidham remarked. “So, they know what is most necessary and what will be the most helpful for us. Right now, we’re just trying to decide what is the best way to utilize the funds that we have available for the airport.”
No action was taken at Tuesday’s meeting, and though a date has not yet been set for the next meeting, Stidham said it should be sometime in the middle of the month.