The Carson City Airport handles little freight, but it serves the business community by being a convenient destination for traveling executives.
While the smaller regional airport with a single runaway can’t handle commercial carriers or some of the biggest jets, it has other advantages going for it.
“We’re closer to Lake Tahoe than Reno is and we have some of the best fuel prices in the western United States here,” said Tim Rowe, airport manger. “Our fuel concessions aren’t gouging people.”
Rowe said some business aircraft make a pit stop to make the most of the low-priced fuel.
The capitol and state government is a draw, too.
“A lot of businesses are visiting the state, especially during the (legislative) session. Traffic does go up then,” said Rowe. “Also we get casino executives when the gaming commissioners meet. We’ve had Steve Wynn come through here.”
And now, during the election campaign, the airport has welcomed some new faces.
“We had Ben Carson through here,” said Rowe. “We couldn’t handle Trump’s big 757, though.”
The airport also sees a lot of air ambulances, said Rowe, including Care Flight of Reno and American Med Flight, going to or from nearby Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center.
Carson City Airport averages between 150,000 to 180,000 air operations — takeoffs and landings — annually.
Pilots aren’t required to file flight plans, but most do, and the airport doesn’t have an operating control tower.
“That does limit the size of plane we can handle but we can accommodate most large business jets,” said Rowe.
It’s home to about 190 aircraft, whose owners keep their planes in hangars located on the 240-acre site.
Rowe estimates about 30 percent of those who lease space for their airplanes use them for business travel.
The airport also has a handful of business tenants including Carson Aviation Services/Adventures, an aircraft maintenance shop and flight instruction school; El Aero Services Inc., maintenance and charter business; and Mountain West Aviation, for self-service fueling.
The nearly 90-year old airport is also home to a large display of remote-controlled aircraft, half of which are owned by the High Sierra Flyers Remote Control Club and the other half on loan from the family of the late Bob Brogan, a U.S. military colonel who collected models of aircraft he flew up until the Vietnam War.
Those models all hang in the terminal, a former restaurant that now houses the airport offices and acts as a lobby for visiting pilots and passengers.
The building roof leaks, though, and is on the Airport Authority’s agenda this month to approve plans for possible demolition or repairs.
“I’d like to provide something more comfortable for our visitors,” said Rowe. “We are the capital city. It should be a nice place.”