As the Upper Cumberland continues to grow, traffic and base aircraft continue to increase at the Upper Cumberland Regional Airport.
Jointly owned by Putnam and White Counties as well as the cities of Cookeville and Sparta, the airport features a six-thousand square foot runway.
“We are probably 50/50, general aviation and commercial business service. Obviously, we have a life-force that operates out of here,” Airport Manager Dean Selby said. “We have military operations quite regular and we have a lot of freight operations in and out of here. Not to mention the people that have businesses in the area.”
Governor Haslam proclaimed March as General Aviation Month, as a chance to recognize the contribution of airports like Upper Cumberland Regional to local economies. The Alliance for Aviation Across America says general aviation like that contributes more than $2.5 billion to Tennessee’s economy annually.
“Any attention we give to aviation that educates the public about what an airport is here for and does is important to aviation and important to the communities,” Selby said. “The airport is here to support the communities and some people don’t realize what kind of support the airport provides to the surrounding areas.”
With the focus on expanding industry across the region, Selby said the importance of the facility just off Highway 111 will grow.
“Businesses as they come here, one of the primary things they need is access to the airways. Not just to the roads and other infrastructure but also to the aviation side of it,” Selby said. “Many times we are seeing factories or other businesses that are coming in that are one of the first things they see on their sheet is ‘can the airport support my traffic?’”