Maryville city officials are working to increase the awareness of an underutilized airport through various marketing and reconstruction efforts.
Maryville Assistant Manager Ryan Heiland said the city approved a contract with Hue Labs, a technology company based out of Nevada, to build a website for the Northwest Missouri Regional Airport.
“We’ve done another project with Hue Labs before, for Mozingo,” Heiland said. “We went through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process to develop the website for Mozingo, and we ended up selecting Hue Labs for that project. (We’re) very satisfied with what they put together for the Mozingo website.”
This past year, the airport closed from June through November for the runway renovation project. The project, costing $3.1 million, included repairs to 4,000 linear feet of the runway and the implementation of new runway lights and a wind cone, also known as a wind sock.
Heiland said the project prompted the development of a website.
“When we were going through this airport shutdown, with the new runway, we really wanted to be able to highlight the airport and all the amenities it has,” eiland said. “And a website is one of the easiest ways to do that. So we continue to have a working relationship with Hue Labs from Mozingo. They gave us a great quote to develop a new website.”
The development of the new website for the airport began in November and will be completed by mid-February, at the latest.
Heiland said the city also looks to create awareness of the airport through other avenues.
“We’re developing an official Facebook page, as well as a Twitter and Instagram,” Heiland said. “People take a lot of great pictures out there (at the airport), and we just want a place for people to be able to share their photos of them flying and at the airport. We’ve had a lot of success with Mozingo doing online marketing.”
Heiland said the city will also market the airport through other, pilot centric avenues.
“There’s something new we just installed; it’s called the Automated Weather Observing System (AWAS),” Heiland said. As a component of AWAS there is another acronym, Meteorological Automated Weather Observation Service (METAR). Through METAR, pilots have an app on their phone so when they’re out flying around and looking for gas or another airport, we show up on that map.”
Heiland said METAR is similar to the services provided by Google, and is one of the bigger marketing schemes planned.
“When you’re looking for a restaurant, you Google it,” Heiland said. “And if your business is not tied into Google Maps, then the person searching doesn’t know you exist. So it’s kind of like that for airports. Through METAR, we pop up on pilot’s radar and we can advertise our gas prices and special events. They can also see current weather conditions for the area, so that will be a big help with flight planning.”
Heiland said the marketing strategies are designed to attract more traffic, as well as different traffic.
“There’s the pilot aspect of it and there’s the community aspect of it,” Heiland said. “Certainly, we want pilots to know that we’re here and that they can use this airport. So you have the pilot’s aspect of it, just being able to attract new and existing pilots. Then there’s the website and social media, the community aspect. The conference room is really nice; it has free wifi and audio/visual equipment in it. It’s an amenity of the airport that not a lot of people know about.”
Member of the Airport Advisory Board and local pilot Ed Ensminger said the new marketing strategies will help community members understand the importance of the airport.
“I think, generally, most people don’t understand the importance of an airport in their community,” Ensminger said. “I think most people think it’s kind of a rich guy’s hobby, and it’s not. I also think people think it’s not a very safe way to travel, and it is. You kind of have to look past that, go out to the airport and hang around. It’s kind of a way of life.”
Ensminger said the airport is another gateway into the community, and allows the community to grow.
“For example, every spring and summer, six or eight crop dusters come in here,” Ensminger said. “And those guys are burning 60 gallons an hour of fuel. They come in here and they work a 16-hour day, from sunup to sundown. That alone, and there’s three to four crop dusters here at a time. Then the pilots stay in hotels and eat here. I mean, it makes really, really good economic sense. The town’s not going to grow if the airport’s not taken care of; it’s just a matter of fact.”
In other efforts to better involve the community, the Hawk Road Flyers invite the public to attend a Chili Fly-In at the airport Jan. 21 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The city invites the public to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new runway, at the airport Jan. 27.