Sunday, August 11, 2013

Airport plans promotion: George R. Carr Memorial Air Field (KBXA), Bogalusa, Louisiana

Bogalusa Airport Manager Louis Busby shows off the new runway lights that were just installed to replace the old, less efficient halogen lights including the one under his foot.
Photo Courtesy/Credit DAILY NEWS/Marcelle Hanemann

Business is picking up at Bogalusa’s George Carr Memorial Airport, and now the city is working to attract others by inviting aviators from hundreds of miles around to stop in for breakfast so it can show off some recent improvements with a demonstration of hospitality. 

A Flapjack Fly-In will take place from 8 a.m. through noon on Saturday, Aug. 31. Pilots and passengers will be treated to a breakfast of pancakes, sausage, red gravy and biscuits, and beverages.

While they’re on-site they can check out the recently renovated terminal, which includes a pilot’s lounge complete with satellite TV and recliners, plus a weather computer, maps and more. They’ll also see the just-completed taxiway and the recently installed landing lights.

While they’re in town, the visitors will additionally get a heads-up about Bogalusa attractions and events.

“We’re trying to get more activity here at the airport, more activity with general aviation,” said Airport Manager Louis Busby. “Pilots can come in and talk to one another and get to know what we have here. Even if there’s not a big turnout, this is how we start. Then it’s word of mouth. They go back home and talk about us.”

Busby said he sent email invitations to flyers within a 300 mile radius of the airport, and that Louisiana Aviation, a hub for aviators, put the information on its website and Facebook page, where it got close to 800 likes in just a couple of days.

The Bogalusa airport has been gaining attention for a while, Busby said.

“Word is already out,” he said. “People come in and say they love our terminal building and compliment our runway.”

A new courtesy car enables pilots to run into town to have a meal, shop or even find a place to spend the night, thus helping the local economy while assisting tired, curious or weather-weary flyers. Busby said the car has already seen considerable use.

In one case, four planes from a Texas college flight school touched down while on their way “up north” for a competition.

“They were battling the weather,” Busby said. “I told them they could stay here, take the courtesy car and go to a hotel. I don’t want pilots to feel they have to go when they’re tired or the weather is bad.

“They taxied out and the bottom fell out. They came back in, checked the weather computer and said it was a short band and they’d wait it out, then go.”

By then it was late, and as Busby headed out the door he gave them his card and told them to call if they changed their mind.

“I just got home and sat down when the phone rang,” he said. “I went back, gave them the car key and the address of a hotel. They stayed the night and left very early the next morning in good weather. They left a note. They’d tried to pay me for coming back in, but I told them I was happy to come back and help.”

Such beyond-the-call-of-duty assistance is surely noticed. So are the airport’s increasing material attributes.

The latest changes include two pairs of LED Runway End Identifier Lights that were just installed to replace old halogen lights at the north and south ends of the runway, Busby said. A new digital radio controller allows pilots to turn the lights on, or to adjust their intensity, from their planes, he said.

Busby is ready to tout the airport to anyone who will listen. To check his initial success, look to the skies on the morning of Aug. 31.

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