DIFFERENCE IN GA AIRPORT’S SUCCESS IS AN ACTIVE, ENGAGED BOARD

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ARTICLE:  Airport changes course, begins to thrive

plymouth-airport

AOPA’s Jim Moore does a wonderful job chronicling the efforts of Plymouth, IN to reinvigorate a sleepy little airport. Mayor Mark Senter appointed members to the Board of Aviation Commissioners. His selections started their review of the Plymouth Municipal Airport by questioning whether the deteriorating facility merited remaining as an airfield.

Once they concluded that the airport should be part of the city’s future, they hired an able airport manager. The new approach began with basics – cutting the grass, putting up an attractive entrance sign, repainting the walls, refinishing the exterior walls, upgrading the hangar’s door, new heating and cooling systems and sealing the runway cracks using AIP funds. All of these improvements were noticed. Most creatively, they enlisted a local student/artist who painted an aviation mural in exchange for a future airplane ride. The Board has spent $100,000 and still has a $500,000 reserve available for other upgrades (runway overhaul, AWOS?).

Two new airport tenants, a skydiving and a helicopter operator, joined the existing repair organization. They are trying to attract a flying school (local prep school which includes Ernest K. Gann among its alumni), a medevac operation and a GA repair station. In addition, the low priced GA fuel is drawing itinerants, including a recent GA pilot/golfer who flew in and played an early morning 18 on the course adjacent to the airport.
The AOPA article summarizes the situation well:

“AOPA Great Lakes Regional Manager Bryan Budds said Plymouth offers an example other towns should follow. ‘In a time when far too many communities are questioning the importance of their community airport, the positive, proactive steps Plymouth is taking to invest in their airport and its ability to support the local economy cannot be understated,’ Budds said. ‘Plymouth is a prime example of how local leaders and the aviation community can come together to support the area’s citizens.’ ”

The President of the Board summarized his team’s formula for success:

“Everybody here is active, now, and wants the best for the community, the airport, and the county. We’re almost sold out of space. I don’t know of any other airport that’s booming like we are, and especially in the middle of north Indiana.”

Involved citizens with energy, ideas and interest fuel the economic engine that is the airport. JDA has a team that can help point your leadership in the right direction (jdasolutions.aero).

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