When Camilla Viator started her new job as Madisonville City Manager, she discovered that she was also tasked with being the airport manager.
“On the second day in my career as City Manager I wondered what have I gotten myself into,” joked Viator. “Ed Addicks with Strand Associates was a key player who suggested I attend the Texas Aviation Conference. I was also fortunate to have (then TxDOT Division Aviation Planner) Robert Jackson by my side and he took an immediate interest in the airport, as did other TxDOT personnel such as (Director) Dave Fulton and (Director of Planning) Greg Miller who flew out and visited. TxDOT Aviation was wonderful in helping me to realize that the airport is an economic development tool. From that point on, it kind of took off.”
The city used Madison County Economic Corporation funds to construct a new 24 x 30-foot metal building to serve as a terminal building with a bathroom and central heat and air. The airport also installed an AvGAS and Jet fuel system with a credit card reader.
“Brent Ryder with Sun Coast was instrumental in helping get the Fuel Farm started at the airport,” noted Viator. “I would have been lost without him.”
The airport has worked to improve their drainage, and added a skydiving operation with a new skydiving center building recently built. There is also an on-going pavement rehabilitation project. Other improvements, such as a new windsock, airport fencing and relocation of the beacon have recently been made. Local pilot Mike Murray also provided help with clearing brush at the airport.
The city used RAMP funds to supplement many of their improvements. They spent more than their matching share of RAMP funding in FY 2017 and have funded the other improvements on their own.
The results of Viator and her team’s hard work have not gone unnoticed as the airport won the 2018 Most Improved Airport of the Year at last year’s Texas Aviation Conference.
Leif Mauritzson and his partner Wanda Collins are commercial pilots who also operate a flight training business at the airport.
“All these improvements that you see out here are directly the result of Camilla and her vision,” said Mauritzson. “For the last 30 years, this has basically just been a pasture with a few buildings.”
So what’s next for an encore?
“We have plans to strengthen and lengthen the apron and install a parking lot,” said Viator. “We get calls all the time wanting to know when we’re going to build hangars; we have about 15 planes on the waiting list. The airport is kind of abuzz these days. It’s gone from ‘Madisonville has an airport?’ to excitement from the community about what’s going on out here.”