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/.