Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Monticello Municipal (KLLQ), Arkansas: Airport commission working on new hangar, other projects

The Monticello Municipal Airport is working on a new hangar project to house a corporate jet for a company based in Drew County.

Bennie Ryburn, III, airport commission chairman, said the new hangar will cost approximately $375,000 to build, but the bulk of the money needed will come from  a grant from the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics.

“The state aeronautics will provide $300,000 for the project with the city putting up $75,000,” Ryburn said.

Ryburn went to Little Rock today (Wednesday, Aug. 8) to present the project plans to the Department of Aeronautics and to get approval.

“I made a presentation in May asking for guidance in this project,” Ryburn said. “They gave me the approval to proceed with the project.”

The new hangar will be 90 feet long by 65 feet wide by 18 feet tall, airport director James Barnett said.

“It’s going to big enough to house a 350 King Air jet,” Barnett said. “The jet belongs to a corporation located in Drew County.”

Ryburn said the hangar will create income for the airport in addition to the income coming in for EFS Geotechnologies, owned by Glenn Dabney. EFS currently occupies a newly-constructed office building and hangar for their aircraft at the airport. Construction groundbreaking was held last fall for the project.

Ryburn said that, thanks to the income-producing projects the airport has been able to complete with the Department of Aeronautics monies and city match grants, the airport is self-sufficient in its day-to-day operations.

In addition to the new hangar project, the airport has received funding from the Federal Aviation Administration to complete different paving projects at the airport including repairing a dip in the taxiway, building a taxi for the new hangar once it’s built and a parking area near the jet fueling area.

“We are getting $425,000 from the FAA for these projects,” Ryburn said.

The Monticello airport is classified as a Level Four. Level Five airports are the larger airports in Arkansas such as those in Little Rock, Hot Springs, and those in northwest Arkansas, Ryburn added.

Barnett said the airport currently houses 25 planes. Last month alone, 122 airplanes bought fuel at the airport.

Jim Lied, a pilot for Southern Contractors from Rayville, La., said he likes to visit Monticello’s airport.

“A lot of people don’t realize how important an airport is to a community,” Lied said. “But, should a disaster hit, this airport is going to be what gets you through it.”

Lied said that when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the airport that had the biggest effect on the recovery efforts.

“Those two big airports enabled supplies and manpower to be flown into New Orleans. They wouldn’t have made it without them,” Lied, who has been flying for more than four decades, said.

Lied said Monticello is the airport for Southeast Arkansas.

“It’s so important that the FAA gives a weather forecast for this airport every six hours,” Lied said. “They don’t do that for every single airport. The airport has to be deemed significant by their standards.”

Lied’s company flies in and out of Monticello often to oversee the construction of  Interstate 69.

He added that the airport is very important to economic development because of its size.

“It’s great for economic development because any large company that is considering a location will ask how long the runway is,” Lied continued. “With more that 5,000 feet here, it’s big enough to land a corporate jet. That’s going to make all the difference to a large company.”

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