By Chris Sasser
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
The Garner Field Airport in Uvalde has been named the 2012 General Aviation Airport of the Year during a ceremony at the 30th Annual Texas Aviation Conference in Galveston.
Garner Field, which generates more than $55 million in annual economic activity, was honored for preserving its past, maintaining its long-standing relationships and keeping an eye on the future.
The airport was developed in the 1940’s when the site opened as a training field for the U.S. Army Air. One of the original hangars from that era is still being used — housing an Aviation Museum. The local community has also encouraged the establishment of a WWII aircraft restoration business at the airport.
Several businesses at Garner Field have been tenants for more than 20 years, making the airport a one-stop-shop for state of the art modifications to a wide variety of private, corporate and military jet aircraft. In the past year, the city has supported the expansion of these businesses by investing over two million dollars in infrastructure improvements, new hangar construction, and renovations to existing hangars, while the tenants invested over one million in hangar expansion alone.
In addition to those businesses, Garner Field supports a section of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Operations. The city of Uvalde has accommodated their growth and expansion on the airport with $750,000 in hangar improvements.
The award winning airport had a critical role during last summer’s record drought by housing the Texas Forestry Service aircraft during drought season for fire surveillance and fire fighting activities. To support airfield business expansion as well as overall safety, one of the airport’s industries purchased a small aircraft rescue and firefighting truck and worked with the community to certify 5 of their employees as volunteer firefighters. These cooperative efforts created the airport fire department, a requirements for emergency response for military contracts. When combined with a resident Air Life helicopter, and the city’s fire department three minute response time, this facility has outstanding airport emergency services.
Garner Field is also considered one the premier soaring sites in the world, attracting pilots from across the globe as it hosts the World Gliding Championships. Glider operations are difficult to coordinate with powered aircraft, but this airport has mastered the task.
Congratulations to TxDOT’s 2012 Airport of the Year!