Hemphill County Airport now open after extensive rehab
By Chris Sasser
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Up in the far northeast corner of the Texas Panhandle is a picturesque town with trees, rolling hills and a river that runs just to the north. After an extensive makeover, the airport now has facility that matches the town’s charm.
Welcome to Canadian, TX, population 2,649, and an area that has enjoyed prosperity from the prolonged energy development. Despite the town’s growth, Hemphill County Airport (KHHF) had fallen under disrepair in recent years. All that has changed thanks to a motivated airport manager, supportive city officials and TxDOT’s Aviation Division.
“One of the first things we did with the help of a TxDOT RAMP grant was to eradicate a few cottonwood trees,” said Airport Manager Bill Kendall. “That had to be done so we could install a game fence.”
The game fence was identified as a critical need for the airport as deer encroachments, especially in the evening, were common.
“There were times I would see 15–20 deer out on the runway,” said Kendall. “We had a few near misses, and then an actual deer strike. After that we knew the fence had to be built immediately.”
Kendall began working at the airport in 2009, and his detail-oriented approach and background in construction made him ideally suited to take on the major airport projects. With the help of the county judge, they applied for grants to rehabilitate the two runways.
“The crosswind runway was a total reconstruction project; it was widened to 60 feet,” said Kendall.
In addition to the runways, a concrete fuel apron was constructed, and the runway lighting was replaced.
When I arrived at the airport, it was closed while the runways were being paved and painted; the finishing touches to several years’ worth of work. Next on Kendall’s wish list is to have a displaced threshold constructed on runway April 22 to improve the safety of takeoffs during hot days. Further down the road, Kendall would like to see terminal building improvements.
“I’m proud of the place,” said Kendall. “It’s kind of an oasis out here in the panhandle.”
For more information about the Hemphill County Airport, please visit http://www.airnav.com/airport/KHHF.