The airport is in the midst of completing several improvements to make the runway safer.
A safer runway is not only good for pilots, it is good for business.
For years, the Payson Municipal Airport — Rich Henry Field has steadily been making changes to help it compete with other regional airports in the state.
These improvements haven’t gone unnoticed.
The airport has seen a steady increase in flights and recently, an increase in charter flights.
Dennis Dueker, airport coordinator, said many of the pilots that fly or charter guests end up buying a home in Payson after flying in and seeing not only the beauty of the area, but the amenities the community has to offer.
Dueker, one of two people who work at the airport, says he sees his job partly as being an ambassador for the community as he is often the first person they meet when arriving.
The most recent improvements include updated lighting equipment to make the airport more pilot friendly.
Blue lights have been added to the taxiway along with informational signs so pilots landing after hours know where to park. On runway 6, the west end of the airport, precision approach path indicator (PAPI) lights have been added. The airport had PAPI lights on the east end of the runway, but now pilots landing at night from the west (pilots always land into the wind so come into the airport based on the wind direction) can do so safely. The lights are not visible from the ground, but help a pilot land correctly with the runway.
The airport is also getting Runway End Identifier Lights (REILs). A pilot could turn these lights on in the event of weather by using their radio. The flashing lights help the pilot land safely.
All the improvements are being covered by funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“It didn’t cost the town a thing,” Dueker said.
These improvements complete the airport’s 10-year master plan.
“These are things that all airports have, we were one of the few that didn’t have it,” he said.
Dueker said he has seen airport traffic increase in recent years because of the number of charter flights.
“They are discovering Payson,” he said. “We have a lot of people decide to move to Payson because of the airport.”
Dueker said he likes to point out to pilots and charter guests the area’s amenities, including the golf courses, mild weather, shops, activities, forest, water supply and medical services, including two air helicopter companies.
On average, the Payson airport sees between 60 and 70 flights a day.
Just Monday, Dueker said a Black Hawk helicopter refueled. It was in the area training.
For more information about the airport, 806 W. Airport Road, call 928-472-4748.