Wingtips Fall 2015
By Yasmina Platt,
AOPA’s Central Southwest Regional Manager
We had a very busy, but productive, legislative session in Texas in 2015 and AOPA members, pilots and aircraft owners among others will reap the benefits.
New Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a number of general aviation friendly bills into law after the 84th Texas Legislature adjourned June 1st. In addition to working with state legislators, we met and talked with staff in Abbott’s offices in both Austin and Washington D.C. to ensure GA pilots’ voices were heard.
Thanks to advocacy efforts from AOPA and other aviation stakeholders who tracked 54 bills throughout session, pilots can enjoy many of the benefits being afforded to GA. The bills that Abbott signed into law provide:
- $84 million (state, federal and local dollars) to support and promote GA services and airports for each of the fiscal years ending Aug. 31, 2016 and 2017;
- Free Texas Department of Transportation Airport Directories (the directory previously cost $6);
- A requirement to mark and register meteorological evaluation towers (better known as MET towers) to mitigate safety-of-flight hazards for pilots;
- Clarification of how GA aircraft leasing and business practices operate so that sales and use tax changes don’t affect the industry’s positive contribution to the state’s economy.
- The ability for repossession agents to file a petition in a justice court for a writ of assistance to receive help from law enforcement officials when repossessing an aircraft.
Yasmina Platt said leadership and support from Reps. Paul Workman (47th District), Armando Martinez (39th District), Chris Paddie (9th District), Rick Miller (26th District), and John Otto (18th District), and Sens. Charles Perry (28th District), Van Taylor (8th District), Royce West (23rd District), and Jane Nelson (12th District) helped push the positive legislation through session.
You can get more information about these and other developments in our region, and specifically in Texas, by visiting http://www.aopa.org/Advocacy/Airports-and-State-Advocacy.aspx or following me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/AOPACentralSW or @AOPACentralSW).
Gillespie County Airport in Fredericksburg readies for another round of projects
By Chris Sasser
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Whether you are a World War II history enthusiast, rock climber, golfer, or simply enjoy perusing a classic downtown area, the Hill Country town of Fredericksburg offers something for everyone.
Serving as the gateway to the community is the Gillespie County Airport (T82), which is located on the southwest edge of town adjacent to the county fairgrounds. The airport has a 5,001-foot runway with a full-length parallel taxiway and averages about 44 aircraft operations a day. The airport has 104 based aircraft, a combination of single, twin-engine, jet and helicopter.
Gillespie County Airport Aviation Advisory Board Member Jim Mulvihill describes a different airport when he first arrived in town.
“I came here in 1992, and it was absolute desolation out here,” says Mulvihill. “There were maybe 15–20 hangars; it was almost as though it was abandoned. There was a short runway that was in poor condition. It wasn’t until about the 2000-era that things started moving.”
In that time frame legendary PGA golfer Hal Sutton designed a championship golf course near the airport (Boot Ranch golf course), and then the Hangar Hotel and Airport Diner were built at the airport.
Roger Hansen has been the manager of the airport for the past 10 years and noted that the airport grew along with the new development.
“The first full-time professional FBO came in the 2000s,” says Hansen. “Prior to that time, there was only an avionics shop and one truck that had avgas. With the addition of a professional FBO (which now has three 12,000 square-foot hangars and a great passenger facility with a pilot lounge and private meeting room), the airport was ready to jump to the next level. We wanted to attract jet aircraft, so that required at least a 5,000-foot runway.”
Fast forward to 2015, and the airport is right in the middle of the action thanks to recent improvements. Hansen notes that having the Hangar Hotel next to the terminal building helps accommodate visitors 24 hours a day. According to him, it also helps to have the support of local government officials.
“The perception of the airport has changed to a place where the good ole’ boys play with their big toys to a place where they can see the benefits such as the traffic that flies in and the events we host,” says Hansen. “It’s a positive attitude, and the commissioner’s court has been very supportive of the airport. We have a very good relationship with the local government. We have all sorts of traffic from a Falcon 50 to Chinook helicopters. We can serve just about anybody.”
Among the airport’s recently completed projects include:
- Installation of 1,200 feet of game-proof fencing around the perimeter of the airport with plans to install a deer guard to further deter those determined animals.
- A slurry coat seal on the existing asphalt surface.
- Installation of modern LED lighting.
- The building of seven private hangars since 2010.
- Establishment of a helicopter parking pad to accommodate the traffic from Fort Hood.
- Relocation of AWOS to accommodate further apron expansion.
On the horizon, the airport plans to build a new taxiway that will allow for better access to the northeast area where the T-hangars are located and construct a new parking apron by reclaiming a detention area.
“This is the exact opposite of some airports you visit that have big fences out front and almost a secretive feel,” says Mulvihill. “This airport is the exact opposite. We want everyone to feel welcome.”
For more information about the Gillespie County Airport, visit their website at http://www.gillespiecounty.org/default.aspx?name=airport.
For more information about the Hangar Hotel and Airport Diner, visit their website at http://www.hangarhotel.com/.
By Chris Sasser
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Located approximately 30 miles from the geographic center of Texas, the city of Brownwood is known for being the home of Howard Payne University, championship high school football teams and perhaps, just as famously, the destination restaurant Underwood’s Bar-B-Q. Brownwood is also known for its airport, Brownwood Regional Airport (KBWD), which has a long and interesting history.
The airport opened during World War II as Brownwood Army Airfield and was used by the United States Army Air Forces as a training base. The 68th and 77th Reconnaissance Groups trained at Brownwood during 1942 with a variety of aircraft, including B-17 Flying Fortresses, B-24 Liberators, P-40 Warhawks and A-20 Havocs. In addition to the training performed at the airfield, patrols were flown over the Gulf of Mexico and along the Mexican border. Until the end of World War II, the primary mission of the Brownwood Army Airfield was the training and preparation of combat crews for overseas replacement.
The U.S. Government deeded the sprawling 1,500-acre airport to the City of Brownwood after World War II. An F-4 Phantom and an F-111 are on display as a reminder of the airport’s historic past as well as many photos inside the airport’s terminal building.
After the airport was deeded to the city, it became a stop for Texas International Airlines, which began operations in 1949 flying DC-3s across Texas. Brownwood Regional received commercial service from Texas International Airlines for nearly 30 years until they stopped flying there in 1977. Mesa Airlines also provided commercial service to the airport until 2005. Fast forward to present day, the airport serves corporate customers (such as FedEx, UPS, Kohler, 3M, McCoy’s Lumber, Belles), the U.S. Army, and U.S. Department of Agriculture and has approximately 50 based aircraft. According to a 2010 economic report, the airport generates nearly $6.3 million in economic output, and the on-site businesses employ 62 people.
Bobby Burks is the manager of the airport. He grew up in Comanche and started flying in 1980. He became an instructor-rated pilot and airplane inspector in Oklahoma before returning back to Texas. He was the airport manager at Coleman Municipal Airport before moving to Brownwood.
According to Burks, the airport enjoys a good relationship with local government officials, but admits there is still work to do to spread the word of general aviation to the citizens of Brownwood.
“Some of them do not know we are here,” laughs Burks. “But most people get excited when they hear I work at the airport. Airplanes fascinate everybody. One of the first things they ask is ‘how do you learn to fly?’”
Burks is more than happy to discuss the airport with local folks, and the airport also hosts many field trips for area schools and is currently in the process of developing a day of learning at the airport called an “Air Fair.” The primary goal of the Air Fair is to augment classroom learning through the excitement of aviation where classroom topics come alive through real-world applications and hands-on activities.
Recently, the airport has undergone some improvements with the help of TxDOT Aviation Division grants.
“We just completed work on Runway 17-35. They put in a 2-inch asphalt overlay and narrowed it to 100 feet. We also have new lights and a four-bar PAPI system on both ends. We also have a new wind sock to replace the one that’s been here since the 40s,” chuckled Burks. “We’re proud of those improvements.”
In the future, Burks is working on securing grants for pavement improvements around the terminal building and taxiways.
“After that’s done, it’s going to be in pretty good shape around here,” said Burks.
The airport also has a modern terminal building that offers visitors the following amenities:
- Passenger Lounge
- Pilot Lounge
- Conference Room
- Pilot Weather/Flight Planning
- Satellite TV
- Wireless Internet
- Vending Machines
“It’s been an adventure,” said Burks. “I’ve been in aviation for 35 years and it’s in my blood.” For more information about the Brownwood Regional Airport, visit their website at
Copy and photos provided with permission by the City of San Antonio.
Stinson Airport (KSSF), the nation’s second oldest general aviation airport in continuous operation, celebrates 100 years of service this year. The TxDOT Aviation Division honors this historic milestone with a look back at Stinson’s colorful history and modern-day role as the reliever for San Antonio International Airport.
A Passion for Flying
In 1915, three siblings and two passions came together to create the Stinson School of Flying. Marjorie, Katherine and Eddie Stinson all had a passion for flying, but Katherine had a passion for music as well. The siblings read a newspaper article about how barnstormers made $1,000 a show, and Katherine had an idea. “She wanted to take that money and go to Europe and eventually study piano, and that was her entry into aviation,” according to City of San Antonio Aviation Assistant Director Tim O’Krongley. O’Krongley also served as previous manager of Stinson Airport.
So with a plan in place, Katherine got to work starting the school. Eddie Stinson, her brother, selected a plot of land south of town just west of the San Antonio River. Her sister, Marjorie, went to City Council to petition them to open up the school. City Council rented 500 acres to her for $5 per year. It was a good deal, O’Krongley says. In the years that followed, Katherine made the trip to Europe, but it was her love of flying — not music — that took her there. She flew to England, Japan and China, becoming the first woman to perform the loop-the-loop maneuver. She set successive endurance and distance records and raised $2 million for the American Red Cross.
Meanwhile, Marjorie and Eddie continued to expand operations at the Stinson School of Flying, teaching civilian students such as Jack Frost (a B-17 pilot in World War II who was shot down and killed in 1942) and pilots from the Canadian Air Force. World War I eventually brought a ban on civilian flying, marking the end of the Stinson School of Flying.
The Boom Years
During World War I and afterward, the airfield was run by the City of San Antonio. According to O’Krongley, the airport was used primarily by barnstormers and experimental pilots until the late 1920s or early 1930s. For a few years, Stinson served as a commercial airport with airline service from American, Braniff and Eastern Airlines. In 1935/1936, a new terminal building was built as a Works Progress Administration project.
During World War II, the Air Force took control of the airport and used it as a training base. The military constructed more than 100 buildings, some of which are still standing. After World War II, commercial airline service moved from Stinson to San Antonio International Airport.
Still Growing Strong
Stinson continues to grow. In 2008, a major capital project to expand the terminal was completed. The expansion added two wings and more than 24,000 square feet of additional space for administrative, concession, corporate Fixed-Based Operators, education and commercial uses. Importantly, the expansion left the original terminal virtually untouched. In 2010, Runway 9-27 was resurfaced and extended to 5,002 feet, allowing the airfield to serve more private and business jet traffic. Stinson serves as the general aviation reliever airport for San Antonio International and is also home to the Texas Air Museum. Behind all the growth and change at the airport is the spirit of the Stinson family, three people whose love of flying continues to tower over San Antonio even today.
Pointing to the next century for Stinson Municipal Airport, a new air traffic control tower is slated for construction beginning in 2015. The airport has 81 aircraft based on the field and averages approximately 250 operations a day. According to a 2011 economic impact report, the airport contributed nearly $24 million to the local economy and employed 240 people at on-site businesses.
For more information about the Stinson Airport, please visit http://www.sanantonio.gov/SSF.aspx.
By Chris Sasser
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
The rains didn’t arrive but the kids did on the 7th annual Kids Day hosted by Calhoun Air Center on May 8. The field trip was attended by approximately 350 sixth-grade students from local schools.
“The Calhoun Air Center has proudly continued to host this event which educates and excites the kids who attend it each year,” said Calhoun County Airport Manager Dianna Stanger. “It is my very favorite day of the year when I have the opportunity to see so many eager faces learn about aviation. We can’t believe it’s been seven years that we’ve hosted the event — making it more than 2,450 students that have visited the airport since 2009.”
There were a number of pilots with different aircraft present set up as individual stations. Each station taught the students subjects such as: the differences between an airplane and helicopter, emergency air flights, fuel management, aerodynamics, wind components, wind velocity and aircraft parts.
The pilots and aircraft included: Dianna Stanger, airport manager with a Eurocopter EC120; Steve Plunkett, fixed base operator (FBO) manager with a Beechcraft Premier jet, David Hahn, local farmer with a Maule and Larry Robinson, local pilot with a Cirrus SR22.
The Calhoun County Fire Department, EMS and U.S. Coast Guard were also in attendance. PHI, Inc. sponsored a snow cone station and the students were delighted to cool down while walking around on the warm tarmac. There were special guest appearances by PHI Inc. with their Eurocopter EC135, John Sterling with an Air Tractor, and the U.S. Coast Guard performed training tactics on the runway.
“What looked to be an inclement rainy day turned into a day of learning about aviation for everyone involved,” said Calhoun Air Center Public Relations Manager Jasmine Gordon. “The look on their faces says it all!”
The Calhoun Air Center also actively promotes the National Aviation Art Contest and each year they submit hundreds of entries.
“It’s amazing to see our local aviation community come together to show the students how great aviation can be,” said Steve Plunkett, FBO manager. “We all look forward to this day each year.”
|Airport Name||Grant Amount||Project Description|
|Sugar Land Regional Airport||$2,547,710||Construct replacement hangar for taxiway F relocation|
|Victoria Regional Airport||$1,813,550||Repair/ replace watering system for Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting|
|Commerce Municipal Airport||$2,272,528||Construct taxiway and new turnaround, mill and overlay Runway 18-36; apron and old turnaround; remove and expand apron pavement; mark pavement; install precision approach path indicators-2 Runway 18-36 with LED upgrade; install medium intensity runway lights with LED upgrade and signage; and install beacon|
|Addison Airport||$2,151,740||Reconstruct taxi lane Victor; enclose drainage taxiway Victor; demolish pavement and construct temporary taxi lane for Victor reconstruction|
|Cherokee County Airport||$752,684||Rehabilitate and mark Runway 14-32; rehabilitate apron and taxiways and construct hangar access taxiway|
|Palestine Municipal Airport||$484,070||Rehabilitate and mark Runway 18-36; rehabilitate taxiway to Runway36, taxiway to Runway 27, and taxiway to Runway 18|
|Brooks County Airport||$1,810,790||Rehabilitate and mark Runway 17-35; mill and overlay northeast section of Runway 14-32, northeast section of apron taxiway to Runway 14; mark Runway 14-32; expand south apron; rehabilitate southeast section of Runway 14, southeast section of apron, parallel, cross and midfield taxiway for Runway 17-35; widen taxiway fillet to Runway 35 end; replace lighted wind cone and light supplemental; clear grub wildlife habitat and clear out runway safety area|
|Caldwell Municipal Airport||$1,465,900||Rehabilitate and mark Runway 15-33; rehabilitate and mark aprons and taxiways; construct hangar access taxiways and apron area for aircraft run-up; construct nested T-hangars;|
|North Texas Regional Airport/Perrin Field||$725,090||Construct apron for hangar development in terminal area; airfield drainage repairs; and construct wildlife security fence in north and south areas with gates|
|Big Spring McMahon-Wrinkle Airport||$1,439,636||Design and construct 12 unit T-hangar and hangar access taxiway|
|Bay City Municipal Airport||$964,985||Rehabilitate and mark Runway 13-31; rehabilitate apron taxiway; hangar access taxiways and apron; rehabilitate and mark parallel taxiway and cross taxiway; reconstruct entrance road, terminal auto parking and hangar access road; and repair drainage north taxiway|
|Jones Field/Bonham||$150,000||Install automated weather observing system|
By Rick Davenport
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Fifteen years ago, Ty Gipson received the phone call he was waiting for. In a matter of hours, the 30-year-old was meeting a private jet at Georgetown Municipal Airport (KGTU). He was flown to the Jefferson County Airport in Beaumont to pick up his mother and then on to Baltimore for a double-organ transplant.
A motor vehicle fatality had just occurred, and the victim was the donor of a perfectly matched pancreas. His 60-year-old mother (also a perfect match) had insisted on donating one of her kidneys if the time came.
The time was now and there was no time to spare. The risky surgery was Ty’s only chance at survival.
“Having this network of general aviation airports saved my life,” Gipson proclaims.
After 15 hours in a Maryland hospital operating room, Ty immediately began feeling better. No longer would the type I diabetes — that he endured since the age of 8 — ravage his body.
“It was like living in a world of only black and white and suddenly the world changed into vivid colors,” he says, describing how organ donation not only saves lives, but allows the recipient the chance at living life.
Given a second chance, Gipson began a new, healthy journey and started doing a lot of community and volunteer work. Predictably, he is most passionate about organ donation education. He works with the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (http://www.txorgansharing.org/) by telling his story, urging others to consider it.
And in May, he was elected to the Georgetown City Council.
“It’s ironic that Georgetown Municipal is in the district I represent. One of my goals is to make sure the airport has the funding it needs so it can continue to contribute to our economic development. Yes, the airport has a very special place in my heart,” he says.
Momentum Continues to Grow For 3rd Class Medical Reform
Ten years ago, the federal aviation administration began a new program to permit pilots to fly light sport aircraft under certain conditions without an FAA medical, if they possessed a valid state driver’s license. Since the program began, it has been utilized safely and effectively by thousands of pilots flying tens of thousands of hours.
For some time there has been a broad-based effort to expand this approval to a much greater group of private pilots. The intent of this effort is to enact legislation allowing pilots to use the sport pilot standard of medical certification for non-commercial flights in aircraft weighing up to 6,000 pounds with no more than six seats.
This change would include virtually all single engine airplanes with six or fewer seats, including Beechcraft Bonanzas, as well as many light twins like the Piper Aztec, Beechcraft Baron 55 and 58, and Cessna 310. Pilots would be able to carry up to five passengers, flying at altitudes below 18,000 feet msl, in either VFR or IFR conditions, no faster than 250 knots.
All pilots would still be required to undergo a flight review, conducted by a certificated flight instructor at least every two years in order to act as pilot in command. During these flight reviews, instructors will continue to evaluate knowledge, skills and risk management to safely operate an aircraft.
The aircraft owners and pilots association (AOPA) took the lead on this effort with most of the other general aviation groups lending their support. The Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 supports this change and has been filed in the United States House and Senate. As of this writing, the Senate Bill (S. 571) has 57 co-sponsors while the House Bill (H.R. 1062) has 122 co-sponsors.
Pilots who support third class medical reform should contact their senators and representatives and ask them to co-sponsor the pilot’s bill of rights 2. This is a change whose time has come. If this change does occur, it will be a huge stimulus for the general aviation industry.
Finally, I would like to announce the retirement of Director of Engineering Bijan Jamalabad. Harry Lorton will serve as the interim director.
By Chris Sasser
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Confucius said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” If that’s the case, Cherokee County Airport (KJSO) Manager Clint Goff is on a permanent vacation. Of course vacation hardly describes the amount of hard work and initiative Goff has displayed during his tenure, which was rewarded by winning the 2015 General Aviation Manager of the Year award at the 2015 Texas Aviation Conference.
Fresh out of high school, Goff began his career at the airport (located in a picturesque stretch of rolling hills and pine trees about six miles south of Jacksonville) by working part-time on the weekends fueling planes, washing windshields, sweeping floors and in his words “Whatever needed to be done and happy to do so!”
“From the age of six or so years old, I always had a fascination with airplanes,” explained Goff. “I knew, even at that age, that I wanted to do something in aviation. As I got older I started studying airplanes—really anything that I could get my hands on. My passion at that time was not fixed-based operator (FBO) operations; instead I wanted to learn to fly. I started taking flying lessons and it took me a few years to get my private pilot’s license in 2004.”
While learning to fly, Goff began working at the airport full-time and learned the ropes of airport operations under four different FBO operators. In 2007, Goff was hired by the county as part-time airport manager. During this time, he convinced the county to form an airport advisory board and made sure the members included appointees from local businesses, the president of the local economic development corporation, and airport tenants.
“The board was looking at ways to generate more revenue for the airport,” said Goff. “I recommended that the county take over FBO operations as I felt it would be the best way to grow the airport. It turned out to be a good time for the then-FBO operator to sell to Cherokee County. That was presented to the Commissioner’s Court and they approved the measure in 2009. At that point I took over full management of the airport and FBO operations.”
After taking over operations, Goff worked with the county to adopt airport rules, regulations, and minimum standards; buy out an outdated and unfavorable FBO lease; regain control of the airport terminal building; and encourage the county to use their non-primary entitlement funds to construct game fencing around the airport to keep out feral hogs and other wildlife. He also used RAMP grants to remove obstructions in the runway protection zones and easements to protect the airport approaches; repair and recalibrate the precision approach path indicators; repair fueling systems; crack seal the runway; prepare a hangar development plan; and work with the local TxDOT district for assistance with paving issues and installation of temporary access taxiways for hangar development.
Goff also places a high value on airport marketing by maintaining the airport’s modern and informative website (http://www.cherokeecountyairport.com/) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/cherokeecountyairport), which he uses to advertise fly-ins and other airport events to the community and beyond.
The payoff came at this year’s conference, and he was able to share the moment with his family.
“As the award presentation was being read, I started to think ‘hey, I’ve done some of these things,’” said Goff. “Then I looked at my wife and she had a big smile on her face and said that she wanted to be the first to congratulate me. It was quite a moment and definitely something that I’ll never forget.”