By Chris Sasser
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
At first glance, Lamesa, Texas, may not seem like a popular destination. Located 55 miles south of Lubbock, it is a bit out of the way by car. But by air, you couldn’t pick a better location for refueling convenience, agricultural use and rangeland firefighting services. Thanks to motivated and experienced leadership, the airport is now starting to fulfill its potential to the community.
Rewind ten years when Lamesa Municipal Airport (2F5) was a dusty outpost with a couple of runways but little else in the way of supporting infrastructure.
“The runways were good, but that was about all the airport had going for it,” said Mike Hughes, president of the Lamesa Municipal Airport Advisory Board. “The terminal building was not fit for use. There was no fuel and no courtesy car.”
In stepped new airport manager John Farris, who was a county agent familiar with the grant process. He brainstormed with the airport board about what they could do to improve the airport. After upgrading the fuel system in 2010, they knew the terminal building was the next priority.
The airport teamed up with a local foundation to fund and construct a new 1,900 square-foot terminal building, which formally opened in early January 2016. The new terminal is fully equipped with a flight briefing room, an airport manager’s office, and a waiting room with a conference table and furniture. There is also an attached two-car garage that stores the airport courtesy car and other airport equipment.
“Because of our location, we get a lot of traffic from people flying in to refuel,” said airport board member and flight school operator Harold Holladay. “And sometimes they stay the night. Before we built the terminal building, that was never an option.”
Recently, the airport was awarded a 75 percent state and 25 percent local grant to install an automated weather observing system (AWOS) that was commissioned in 2016.
The airport is now busy with activity, including flight training, and corporate and recreational flying operations. Among the airport’s most important activities, aerial applicators provide critical support to agri-businesses in the region. The airport also supports area correctional facilities, law enforcement, and rangeland firefighting services.
The airport is set to undergo a major runway and taxiway rehabilitation project in the next year and installation of a precision approach path indicator (PAPI) to runway 7-25.
All of these improvements resulted in the airport being named the 2017 Airport of the Year at the Texas Aviation Conference in San Marcos.
“Certainly it’s a great honor to be named the airport of the year,” said Farris. “The airport board remains focused to make the airport a priority and to work with the city, county, and state to make improvements where needed.”