The Fort Smith Air Show was just one of the topics of conversation at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Fort Smith Regional Airport Commission.
The show will be held at the airport on Oct. 1 and 2 and is free to all attendees. Of particular interest is that 2011 marks the most dangerous year for air show disasters in recorded history.
Thus far, there have been 11 air show disasters. The first happened in March with the most recent occurring on Sept. 17 when a T-28 Trojan crash-landed at the Thunder over the Blue Ridge Open House and Air Show. The event took place in Martinsburg, W.V., just one day after a deadly event in Reno, Nev. At the 2011 Reno Air Races, the pilot of a P-51 Mustang crashed in an area with attendees and killed about 10 people with 75 additional injuries.
Executive Director John Parker notes there is no cause for concern at this weekend’s event.
“Most of the disasters that you are seeing involve races. We are performance based. You come for the act,” Parker said, noting that the distance between the performance field and spectators is about 1,200 feet. Furthermore, Fort Smith Regional recently passed the FAA Part 139 Compliance inspection with flying colors. The FAA sets the safety standard for all air shows in the United States, and they gave Fort Smith Regional passing marks without a single incident.
“(Reading from FAA letter) ‘We commend your commitment to airfield safety and wish you continued success in this regard.’ That’s as close as you’ll get to an ‘Atta boy’ from the FAA,” Parker said.
Parker noted that Special Projects Assistant Michael Griffin, Field Maintenance Supervisor Steve Myers, and Inspector Pat Hiller, deserve special mention for their efforts.
“Michael has an excellent training program from the highest to the lowest level of the organization. Steve takes care of more than 1,500 acres including the fields, runways, and taxiways. He’s done a great job managing resources, times, and materials to present the airport in as good of a condition as possible. And Pat Hiller works with TACAir to make sure all of our fuel inspections are compliant to FAA standards. I’m really proud of these individuals and our entire staff,” Parker said.
In other news, Fort Smith Regional granted T-N-T Home Improvements acceptance on its $209,000.48 bid to handle the solid panel security fencing project that was mentioned at last month’s meeting. T-N-T beat out five other bidders to win the project, which should be completed by the end of 2011.
Also in carryover business from the August meeting, Parker noted that construction of Taxiway A West Phase 1 is underway and being administered by Forsgren, Inc.
In financial news, with 66.7% of the overall 2011 budget reporting, total operating revenues were at 70.8% of the budgeted amount. This number compares to 80.7% from 2010. Overall revenues are at 38.3% compared to 64.9% from last year. Operating expenses for the airport are close to the 2010 amount at 58.8% (compare to 58.4% from a year ago). Overall expenses reflect 29.3% of the budget, compared to 68.3% from last year. Overall revenues for the month of August show to be $133,120.22 higher than overall expenses.
“The fact that our commodities — that’s fuel and lubricant and all of our liquids — are so high, yet we’re still coming in at around last year’s expenses is a testament to what a good job our staff is doing of managing overall expenses,” Parker said.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Fort Smith Regional Airport Commission is slated for Oct. 25, 2011.