Take-offs and landings at the Monett Regional Airport continued at a busy clip this summer.
Tallies taken during weekday business hours showed the second-busiest summer, for June through September, on record, though 9 percent behind last summer’s pace.
The four-month period showed several trends. Flights by businesses not located in Monett continued to lead the count as the source of most activity. Out-of-town businesses flying into and out of the airport accounted for 1,452 flights, the largest number for the summer since airport personnel began keeping records in 2005. The sum ran nearly 200 flights, or 16 percent, ahead of last summer.
Flights by Jack Henry and Associates planes and those by EFCO Corporation accounted for 380 take-offs and landings. That represented 70 flights less than a year ago, a reduction that has continued throughout 2015. The total represented the second highest sum for the last seven years, though lower than tallies in 2005 through 2007.
Brian Hunter, director of Jack Henry’s aviation division, discounted the 20 percent drop in flights as an anomaly due to the limited hours that city employees count plane activity.
“Our flying in the last year might be down a hair overall, but there’s no real measurable difference,” Hunter said. “Our operations side is basically flat.”
Hunter said Jack Henry planes begin flying around 5:30 a.m. and often return as late as 7 p.m., thus bypassing the counting period in the city’s official tally. Jack Henry planes also tank up on fuel in Monett and may make more stops during the day. Hunter tallied around a 5 percent increase in the number of commercial flights flown by Jack Henry employees, booked through the company’s office at the Monett airport, further reflecting growth in aviation use.
Combining the business flights originating locally and out of town produced a total of 1,832 for the period, the largest number on record for the summer months.
Non-business flights did not register an increase, despite lower fuel prices. Planes hangared in Monett made 215 flights, ranging between 54 and 56 flights a month from July through September. Flights not originating in Monett landing and later departing hit 191, the lowest number on record for the period. Non-business flights had not topped 50 in a month all year until September, when that number jumped to 74.
Airport superintendent Howard Frazier said the jump in September flights reflected Monett as a stop on an annual poker run that started in Bentonville, Ark., went to Grove, Okla., stopped in Monett then continued to Harrison and Springdale, Ark. Seventeen planes participated in that event.
The total number of non-business flights for the period totaled 406, almost half the number a year ago and the lowest on record for the summer.
The grand total for the summer months came to 2,238 flights, down 228, or 11 percent, from last summer, but up 564 from two years ago.
The drop in the total did not alarm Frazier when he looked at fuel sales.
“I think we’re ahead of last year on fuel sales,” Frazier said. “I know we have a lot of hangar activity after hours because I see they’ve purchased fuel. People come in after work.
“We’ve had a lot of students come in after hours as well, from Aurora, Joplin and Bentonville, [Ark.], to get out of the heavy traffic area. We’ve also had a lot of spray planes lately, and some of them work until 7 p.m. The numbers that we keep only track an eight-hour period.”