Airports are among the largest investments a city can make. To attract and retain corporations with national and global ties, as well as talented people to work for them, efficient, functional airports that are easily reached are increasingly important.
Business aviation comprises much more than what many people might typically consider “business.” It also encompasses life-saving air ambulance services, provides critical emergency and disaster response, strengthens community, provides opportunities for recreation, economic development, and much more. It is difficult to quantify the value of these benefits, yet to the people who live and work in rural communities they are real, even if not always noticed.
The Mount Pleasant Regional Airport has been an active force for the city’s growth in industry and commerce since 1947. The original Municipal Airport on Robert Nance Blvd remained in operation for 55 years. The current airport at 501 Mike Hall Parkway, opened in August 2002.
Due to its capability of accommodating and housing jets, it opened as a regional airport. With its 6,000-foot lighted runway, 58 enclosed T-hangars, seven box hangars and the AWOS weather station, it attracts a variety of users from the flight enthusiast to corporate and medical transports.
The runway is illuminated 24/7 with the ability of remotely controlling runway lights from the cockpit of aircraft. With the click of a mic, pilots can transmit a command to brighten the runway in increments of dim, medium and bright for landings or takeoffs. The full-time staff of three experienced personnel, operate the facility seven days per week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., with emergency availability for fuel requests any time of the day or night.
The high-tech AWOS weather station reports to the instrument flight rule pilot the current weather conditions, cloud heights, and visibility. This technology is crucial for medical flights approaching or departing in inclement weather.
Located at the airport is the Mid-America Flight Museum, owned by Scott Glover, who has been very generous in sharing his facility and promoting events for veterans and other groups. The museum holds a fascinating variety of aircraft manufactured from the 1920s through the 1940s, and is staffed by full-time aircraft mechanics who daily perform maintenance and upkeep. All aircraft in the museum are still capable of flying.
Included in the mix are some that fought in WWII including a 1940s B-25 bomber, a P-51 Mustang fighter, and an F4 U Corsair fighter. A highly documented C 47 (DC3) that flew in all WWII theaters including the D-Day invasion of Europe is a frequently flown mainstay of the museum.
One of the more unusual aircraft is a Grumman Albatross flying boat used by the USAF for search and rescue. Also in residence is a 1929 Ford Tri Motor airliner, one of only eight in the world still flyable. Nicknamed “The Tin Goose”, Ford produced 199 airplanes of this model between 1926 -1933. Designed primarily for passenger use, the Trimotor was used in later years for barnstorming and crop dusting.
Another historical airplane inhabiting the museum is the Douglas C41(DC-3), a transport craft used by Chief of Staff of the Army Air Corps, General Henry “Hap” Arnold who was taught to fly by Orville Wright and who served in both world wars.
Of approximately 400 airports in Texas, the Mount Pleasant Regional Airport has been the recipient of two major awards given to outstanding airports and managers. Recognizing excellence, innovation and ability to meet the needs of their users, these awards reflect the contributions of airport personnel to improve, sustain and enhance the airport in which they serve.
General Aviation Airport Manager of the Year and General Aviation Airport of the Year are selected by the TxDOT Aviation Division. Names and lists of accomplishments, expansions and improvements are submitted for nomination and the winner is chosen through internal voting by TxDOT.
The Mount Pleasant Regional Airport was chosen as the top airport in Texas in 2005. Airport Manager Paul Henderson, who has been employed with the city of Mount Pleasant since June 2002, was given the honor of Airport Manager of the year in 2008.
Tours of the airport are available by appointment. Visit our website at www.mpcity.net or call 903-575-4020.
Mike Ahrens is the Mount Pleasant city manager. He can be reached at 903- 575-4000.