CLAREMORE — A newly formed partnership has aspiring pilots and the Claremore Regional Airport flying high, officials say.
A taxiway extension has stimulated development at the airport and created the potential for eight, new private box hangars ranging from 2,500 square feet to 3,500 square feet, said Brandon Irby, marketing manager of the Claremore Industrial and Economic Development Authority. It also has lured a private pilot ground school to the facility thanks to a partnership between Rogers State University and Tulsa Aviation Group.
“The Tulsa Aviation Group had expressed interest in a ground school,” Brandon Irby, marketing manager of the Claremore Industrial and Economic Development Authority, said in a telephone interview. “They loved our facility, the size and location.
And it provided a new market for them to grow into.
“They had also been in discussion with the university to create kind of a noncredit, continuing education program. The university is always looking to expand and partner in that direction. So it was kind of a natural fit for all three parties.”
The RSU Aviation private pilot ground school, which started May 4, is a six-week program with classes held 6 to 8:30 p.m. each Monday and Wednesday at the Claremore Regional Airport.
According to Irby, the airport was relocated east of town on Oklahoma 20 in 1994. The taxiway extension completed in 2014 cost about $400,000. An approach lighting system is being installed to increase visibility in inclement weather, and taxi way and runway lighting will be updated to LEDs once the approach lighting system is completed. Combined, the lighting updates will cost $1.5 million.
The projects are being financed through federal grants, Irby said.
“The growth we’ve experienced in the past few years is unprecedented for regional airports of our size,” Eric Winn, Claremore Regional Airport Manager, said in a statement. “In this time, we’ve seen great strides in expansion and development.”
The Claremore Regional Airport is owned by the city of Claremore and managed by the Claremore industrial authority. The airport’s growth over the past five years has included the construction of 15 new private and commercial hangars.
“We are proud of the asset we have in our airport,” Jeri Koehler, executive director of the industrial authority, said in a statement. “Few communities in Oklahoma can boast such a fine facility. It is a great benefit to our business and industrial partners, and we are proud to partner with RSU Aviation to bring instruction to future pilots.”
In 2014, the airport had a traffic volume of 15,000 operations (takeoffs and/or landings), with jets making up six percent of that traffic. It receives weekly use from industrial clients that include Baker Hughes in Claremore and Google in Pryor.
“We’re very proud of our airport,” Irby said. “It serves our industrial partners very well, but it also sees a lot of activity from flight training schools in the Tulsa metro.”