Nearly 50 years ago, one local businessman had a dream to bring aircraft to a patch of land between Midlothian and Waxahachie.
Judy Demoney, the current Mid-Way Regional Airport manager, explained Rex Odom was “just determined there would be a need. He just stayed on it and stayed on it.”
The airport now serves as one of 395 airports in the state and generates over $22 million in local economic impact.
Odom, a local Waxahachie businessman, first hatched the idea to create a regional airport located off Highway 287 between Midlothian and Waxahachie after he noticed the area’s possible growth, Demoney said.
The airport started as a Waxahachie-only project under the city’s chamber of commerce. Odom then formed the Airport Committee of the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce in 1977.
It was then determined that by having Midlothian and Waxahachie partner to run the airport would make obtaining a Federal Aviation Administration grant much easier, which led to the creation of the Joint Airport Board in 1984.
A year later, the cities received a $23,239 grant to help officials select an airport site between Midlothian and Waxahachie, according to a February 1985 Daily Light report.
“It was just a long process and then it was finally granted,” Demoney added.
The grant paid for 90 percent of the costs in the airport’s first steps toward creation.
Waxahachie and Midlothian councils both chipped in an additional $1,000 to hire an engineering firm to find a site, according to the 1985 report.
At the time, the two cities had a combined population of 25,000 people, but today have surpassed that to nearly 61,000.
Construction of the Midlothian-Waxahachie Municipal Airport broke ground in October 1991 and had the grand opening in 1992 after about 15 months of work, Demoney said. It took $7 million to construct the site at the time which included a 5,000-foot runway according to a 1992 Daily Light report.
“We’ve had a lot of red tape to go through. And with the economy like it is, it was tough. We thought we had lost it a few times,” then-Waxahachie Mayor Maurice Osborn said in a 1992 Daily Light report.
The airport received its original name based off a coin toss, which Midlothian won and allowed the city to put its name in front of Waxahachie, Demoney noted. It was in May of 2000 that a new name was chosen — Mid-Way Regional Airport.
Demoney said the airport was renamed because it had become larger and served all of Ellis County. It was named Mid-Way because the runway is split by the Waxahachie and Midlothian city limits.
The runway was extended to 6,500 feet in 2011 to accommodate most business jets and the terminal was doubled to 8,000 square feet the following year.
“People think it’s a little mom-and-pop airport but it’s not,” Demoney said.
WHO CAN USE THE AIRPORT
Mid-Way Regional Airport is a public airport which means anyone can use it, Demoney said.
“We are not a commercial airport,” she explained. “We are in general aviation.”
Anyone can fly in and out of the airport, but flights can not originate from the site, Demoney noted.
Airport operations Tammy Bowen said many corporate jets utilize the airport including Target, Walgreens and even military aircraft. She noted that a flight can start at another airport and drop off or pick up corporate officials from the Mid-Way runway.
Some of the corporate flights include officials looking for possible sites in the area and flying through the regional airport offers some privacy, Demoney said.
“You can’t originate a passenger aircraft from here,” Demoney further explained. “We don’t have TSA. We don’t have any of that.”
That means the airport does not meet FAA standards in regards to commercial flights. Flights people can typically take out of Dallas Fort Worth International Airport are not available through the Mid-Way Regional Airport.
The regional airport does offer pick ups and drop off of charter flights, Demoney noted.
“Charter jets that take off from Dallas, stop here and pick up a passenger and go, but they don’t originate here,” Demoney explained.
Bowen said because of the charter flights, several famous people have flown through the regional airport. She noted that several well-known people include Bradley Cooper, Clint Eastwood and Reba McEntire.
“It’s easy in and easy out,” Demoney said.
She explained that it’s easy because the airport is not towered so it is not geared to be a commercial airport and it is outside the chaos of Dallas traffic. This is similar to the regional airport in Lancaster which operates like Mid-Way.
The airport is also used by students who use it to practice their landings and takeoffs, Bowen noted.
“We can’t deny anyone coming into our airport,” Demoney said.
That is different than a private runway like Eagles Nest Estates Airport in Midlothian.
Private airports do not qualify for federal grants, so it is up to the owners to maintain the runway.
“No one else can use it, it’s your runway,” Demoney explained.
WHAT DOES THE AIRPORT OFFER/ HOW DOES IT FUNCTION
The airport can accommodate nearly any type of aircraft including helicopters, 737s and any other general aviation, Demoney said.
It is available 24/7 to anyone who wants to use it, but the terminal building is closed on New Year’s Day and Christmas Day.
There are 68 hangers available to be rented to store aircraft, Demoney said. These hangers range in size and shape, which can affect the number of planes that can be stored inside. Most of the hangers on-site are t-hangers which fits one aircraft, but there are several box hangers available that can store multiple planes.
“People don’t understand is how large of an airport this is,” Demoney explained.
The airport offers a self-service fuel station for pilots to use as well as a pilot lounge for people to rest before retaking flight.
Many companies also call the Mid-Way Regional Airport home include Hertz car rentals, Southern Star Aviation and First Flight, and air ambulance service.
It is also where the board of Midlothian and Waxahachie representative meet to make decisions for the airport. It is a seven-member board with three from each city and the seventh alternating from Midlothian to Waxahachie after their three-year term comes to an end, Demoney explained.
More than planes come with the regional airport.
The airport directly offers 92 jobs with up to 110 with capital improvement projects, Demoney said. It provides employment, capital improvements, which means people stay at our hotels, rent our cars and eat in our restaurants.
For those working at the airport, they received a combined $3.3 million in payroll. For those coming in to work at the airport, they receive $2.7 million.
The airport then generates nearly $22.1 million in local economic impact, Demoney said.