By Chris Sasser
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
After several years of upgrades, the Cleburne Regional Airport (KCPT) is ready to meet the needs of a growing city. Respected airport manager Sharlette Wright took over management of the airport several years ago after stints at Brownwood and La Grange.
“When I interviewed for this position, I told City Manager Rick Holden ‘just hand me the keys and don’t worry about it I’ll take care of it,’” said Wright. “Even though I knew this airport had more and different types of traffic than Brownwood, I felt very confident that I could do this job.”
One of the first needs Wright identified was improving the condition of the pavement, which was cracking.
“There was quite a bit to do in terms of pavement rehabilitation,” said Wright. “We overlaid and marked the runway, taxiway and hangar access areas. We still have some thin areas of asphalt but we’ll get there.” The airport installed LED runway lights and a few years ago constructed a perimeter fence and gates.
Wright also went to work on the hangars by repairing the doors, seal-coating roofs and replacing the roof of one that houses a paint shop. The paint shop is planning to begin construction on a $2 million facility this year.
“Hangar space is an issue here as we’ve had several people contact me wanting to come here but I have nowhere to put them,” said Wright. “I’m hoping that getting the facilities we have refurbished and also building new hangars will attract more corporate traffic.”
The airport has seen an increase in traffic and fuel sales; they are selling a load of fuel once a month compared with a load quarterly in past years. According to a 2011 economic impact of general aviation report, the airport generates over $7 million in total economic output and is home to 94 employees.
Wright also works with the community to show off the airport by hosting field trips, fly-ins, summer camps and getting kids involved with the everyday operations of the airport.
“I feed off their energy—the kids come out and get all excited. It keeps me going for a week!” said Wright. “I try to reiterate constantly to the community that this is your airport, come out and visit us. You don’t have to have a pat down to come see our planes.”