The Bowie Municipal Airport provides an economic impact of nearly $3 million for the area.
That study, completed in 2010 by the University of North Texas Center for Economic Development and Research, calculated the economic impact at $2,949,047. Salary, wages and benefits were impacted by $1,662,859 and 28 jobs.
Across the state of Texas, airports create $14.6 billion in economic activity, $3.1 billon in salary, wages and benefits of $3.1 billion and 56,635 permanent jobs.
The data reveals the airport can be a pretty big wheel in the economic machine for Bowie, and that has only increased in the ensuing years due to improvements and increased air traffic.
The city of Bowie first applied to build an airport in February 1963 with the master plan approved in January 1964. The first airport manager was hired on Oct. 29, 1968, with the airport opened soon thereafter.
Through the years the airport has extended the runaway, made major improvements with its directional technology and expanded hangars. As the only airport in Montague County, its traffic is growing.
Airport Manager Stony Lowrance has managed the facility the last five years. He brought 28 years of aircraft industry experience with him to Bowie after working as a crew chief at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
The airport manager said he was happy to leave the rat race of the mega-airport, and he has enjoyed working in Bowie.
The Bowie Airport operates with a 17/35 – 3,603-by-60-foot runaway. The Texas Airport System Plan describes Bowie’s airport being mainly used for agricultural spraying and recreational flying.
Lowrance says while it’s an apt description; more recently, it has seen an increase in business traffic. There are 34 aircraft on the field with seven operated by businesses. Energy Service and Coppell Construction are just a few of the business planes housed at the airport.
All 30 hangars are rented with a wait-list of 15 people waiting on a clipboard.
Lowrance says not a week goes by that he does not field a phone call from someone looking for a hangar.
The yearly average of landings and takeoffs is 2,550 with a monthly mean of 212.5.
Traffic includes aerial agriculture spraying, military approach and T-6 training, student pilot training and a Texas Forest Service Fire staging area.
The Bowie airport received a nice mention in the Cessna Pilots Association magazine. In the January 2016 edition, Haiko Eichler, father to local software developer Michael Eichler, wrote about flying in for a visit.
The pilot called it a “beautiful back country airport,” that had undergone a recent overhaul with a new blacktop runway and tie-down area. He complimented the self-service gas for the planes and the courtesy car that only asked for you to put a little gas in when you return it after visiting in town.
Bowie Airport during the last three years underwent a total reconstruction of the north and south taxiways and tie-down areas plus re-striping and signage.
“Customer service is a big thing for us. Our fuel sales are up, but they can still only get the Jet A fuel when I am here. Turbine planes can use the self-service. We are looking at upgrading the system, but it is very costly. The biggest compliments we are get are on how well maintained the airport is,” said the manager.
Lowrance said there is a lot of interest and activity at the airport among pilots and the community Last September, there was a fly-in with a group of pilots from the Gainesville area that drew a large crowd.
Pat Tripp, a retired commercial airline pilot, is quite familiar with Bowie Airport. Tripp piloted corporate planes for Bennett Production several years ago and recently flew for Energy Service. He said it is a facility that can be used by both the weekend pilot or the business person.
“It is a nice facility for the size and you see people from all over coming in. There has always been talk about extending the runaway, but with the highway and the big drop off it may not work. Hangar space also is a real need. It is good benefit for the community,” Tripp said.
Janis Crawley, executive director for the Bowie Economic Development Corporation, said the size of the runway does limit it to be used as a big tool to attract certain businesses.