Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sierra Blanca Regional (KSRR), Ruidoso, New Mexico: Airport service and local attractions generates more visitors

Business at Sierra Blanca Regional Airport, the village's municipal airport, is growing along with its reputation for outstanding service and the draw from attractions such as the local race track, the manager reported.

The airport experienced nearly a 15 percent increase in operations and a 31 percent jump in jet fuel sales last month compared to the July 2013.

Airport Manager Dave Pearce told Ruidoso village councilors at their meeting last week that 792 takeoffs and landings occurred in July for a daily average of 25.5 compared to 21.7 last year for the same month. Sales of Jet A fuel also were up from a daily average of 537.7 gallons in July 2013 compared to 777.5 gallons last month, he said, Sales for 100LL fuel, used for smaller recreational planes, exceeded last year at 170.6 gallons a day compared to 121.1 gallons.

Noting the increase, Councilor Lynn Crawford asked "Where are they all coming from? That's a big jump and every month there's an increase. Are you giving something away?"

Pearce assured the councilor he is not giving away anything except good service.

"We did some heavy marketing," he said, with opportunities at the Triple A conference and the New Mexico State Aviation Conference. An increased presence on Facebook through the effort of Assistant Airport Manager Sean Parker and several of the younger people on staff invited more interaction at no cost, he said.

"They're coming primarily from Midland, Houston and Dallas," Pearce said. "They have changed the type of aircraft they own. It used to be smaller single engine, but they have graduated to where they are owning jet-type aircraft. They're coming in to utilize the area. We've seen that by looking at what's happening at the restaurants, the hotels and rental agencies, It parallels what is happening at the airport.

"We've also had a huge impact from the (Ruidoso Downs Race) track. I can't say enough about what that brings into this community. We unload daily folks getting off charter airplanes who are tied to the track one way or another, either renting houses or they have houses here, bringing friends and family and are heading down to spend money."

He also initiated some marketing with local golf courses, Pearce said.

He and his staff hope to keep this momentum going, but the biggest obstacle is running out of covered space for airplanes, he said.

Pearce emphasized that the success isn't tied to just one aspect. "I think it's everything, the community, the race track," he said. "It's what's offered downtown, some of unique marketing and what we have to offer at the airport. There's an undertone that this is the place to come."

Patrons of the airport seem to like the way they're treated by the staff of the municipal airport, Pearce said.

Crawford said the airport looks great and as a business owner, he hears from visitors, "It's one of friendliest (airports) they use."

In a related aviation issue, with the success of flights out of Roswell to Dallas, Texas, Ruidoso officials are considering kicking in some guarantee money for a proposed twice-a-day flight schedule from Roswell to Phoenix, Ariz.

"We've been having some meetings with a representative from Roswell about American Airlines flights, two a day from the Roswell airport to Phoenix, and we feel that they would be very helpful to our citizens," Mayor Tom Battin said during the meeting. "That's still in the process and we'll keep you informed."

Village Manager Debi Lee reported that Bill Armstrong, a Roswell businessman who was instrumental in securing the Dallas flights, gave a presentation to the Lodgers Tax Advisory Board and requested funding for a marketing plan that would support air service west. He asked for support for a study to determine if the flight would be advantageous for the area of New Mexico that includes the village, she said.

He returned to the committee with more information Thursday.

"This second (presentation was to) look to raising money for the minimum revenue guarantee," Lee said. "If you recall a few years ago, we were asked to do this for the flight to Dallas from Roswell. The village supported (the flights) and committed funding. However, the money never was used, because the flights were so successful they didn't need the guarantee."

The commitment this time would not kick in until 2015 and 2016, she said, adding, "I think they are asking for $25,000."

- Source:   http://www.ruidosonews.com

Sierra Blanca Regional Airport is considered an economic engine for the Ruidoso community. 
(Courtesy M. Sean Parker)

Friends, family gather for memorial, flyover tribute to pilot Duncan Miller: Nut Tree Airport (KVCB), Vacaville, California

 Duncan Reid Miller 

Hundreds gathered at the Nut Tree Airport Monday afternoon to remember their beloved friend, pilot Duncan Miller.

Miller passed away one week ago at the age of 93 at the Laurel Creek Care Center in Fairfield.

During Monday's celebration of life service everyone claimed Miller as their friend.

"He tried to make a friend out of everyone, and then some," said Jenny Locklin, Miller's daughter. "We'd have to drag him out of places because he was always talking with someone.

"I saw him every Sunday, at least," she continued. "I wasn't ready for him to go. We were ready to keep him forever."

Intertwined through the God-centered service full of scripture and hymns were stories of Miller's character, personality and big heart.

"You've all come here to honor a life well lived," said Rockville Presbyterian Fellowship Church Rev. Larry Vilardo. ... "Duncan lived concrete ethics."

In 1942, Miller committed his life to Christ, a moment that changed his life and everyone else's. Vilardo shared that if everyone lived a life as ethical as Miller did, then the world would definitely be a different place.

Miller's good friend Linn Benson agreed.

"He was a good Christian man and an aviator extraordinaire," Benson said.

Miller was born in Omaha and got his first experience with planes as part of the Civil Pilot Training prior to World War II. He received all pilot ratings, including commercial and flight instructor.

In 1940, he worked in an aircraft factory in San Diego and helped build the B-24. Early in WWII, he was selected to become a civilian flight instructor to help train the large influx of students needed to crew the many aircraft needed in the war effort. In 1944, he was called to active duty, commissioned as an Army Air Forces pilot with duties as a ferry pilot, delivering aircraft from the factory to their units in the United States and Alaska. In 1948, Miller, along with his long time friends Wilber Fitch and Mike Hunt formed a group and started an airline called Air Transport Associates, flying mostly C-46 aircraft within the United States and Alaska. This independent airline was so successful it interfered with a major airline so the Civil Aeronautics board revoked their charter.

This led to Miller and Fitch forming a contracting company in 1956 named U.S. Eagle that performed contractual services for the government throughout the continental United States and Hawaii. They sold the company in 1984 and retired after nearly 30 years of successful operation. U.S. Eagle operates today.

Duncan carried on his love of flying at The Nut Tree Airport after retirement. Several have joked that they should check on Miller's yellow super cub to see if it was still at the airport and that he hadn't taken it with him.

Miller also shared his love of flying with others by instructing them at the Nut Tree Airport. He not only furnished the airplanes to fly, but also the fuel money. Family and friends shared that there are several pilots serving in the military and as airline pilots who were first taught by Miller.

Don Gordon, also a long time friend of Miller's, said that it was a true tribute to a great man to see so many people attend Monday's ceremony.

"He was such a special person," Gordon said. "Duncan was a man who only knew how to give."

He recalled that Miller joined the Gordon Valley Fire Department as a volunteer fire fighter and helped build the new station in the 1970s. When the new foundation was poured, Gordon said Miller spent the night in below freezing temperatures making sure the slab didn't get cold and crack.

Miller also, according to Gordon, would show up in his pajamas when they got a call and just put the turnouts over his clothes. They didn't think anything of it, Gordon said, until Miller showed up one time with his slippers on and not his boots.

"He was always enthusiastic," he said. "When you had Duncan as a friend, you have a friend forever."

Gordon also described Miller's giving nature. Miller started a tradition some 30 years ago of picking up milk at Sunnyside Farms in Fairfield and delivering it to the church. Now it's delivered to Mission Solano. He also regularly opened up his property for volleyball games and Easter sunrise services.

"We're saying farewell to an icon of the valley," Gordon said.

Before Miller was honored in a Missing Man Formation flight outside, Locklin shared a final story her dad's nurses shared with her.

It was Monday, just before Miller passed away, that he was being assisted to bed when they heard a noise.

It was at that moment that Miller took his final breaths when, for no reason at all, Locklin said the nurses heard the toy Sopwith Camel sitting on the night stand next to the bed start it's engine.

Story and Photo Gallery:   http://www.thereporter.com

Obituary for Duncan Miller: http://www.bryanbraker.com

Jim Booth of Nevada City pulls his World War II era fighter into the "Missing Man Formation" in the skies above the Nut Tree Airport at the conclusion of a memorial service for Duncan Miller on Monday. Miller a fixture at the airport and World War II pilot passed away last Monday at the age of 93.

Ebensburg Airport (9G8) may turn down state grant because it ‘probably can’t’ match funds

Johnstown’s airport will get some much-needed cash for airfield work, but the organization managing Ebensburg Airport will have to turn down $200,000 approved for work there.

“That grant requires a 50 percent local match,” said James Loncella, treasurer of Regional Aviation, Conservation and Recreation Association.

“We probably can’t come up with the funds to do that.”

Ebensburg Airport’s $200,000 for hangar work and John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport’s $150,000 for pavement work were among state grants totaling $3.4 million to improve safety and operations at 20 airports.

“Aviation, just as Pennsylvania’s other transportation assets, supports jobs and strengthens our state economy,” Gov. Tom Corbett said announcing the grants.

“These investments position these airports to offer better service and generate additional business activity.”

The state funding for PennDOT’s aviation development program comes from the state’s jet fuel tax.

Work at the Johnstown airport will address pavement rehabilitation in areas surrounding runways, airport authority Chairman Richard Weaver said. The runway pavement  was replaced and upgraded in 2008 through a $14.5 million federally funded project.

“Our runways are in good shape,” Weaver said, predicting the Johnstown airport would have enough local funding to leverage the full state grant.

Ebensburg’s RACRA board members had hoped to upgrade hangars and possibly add new hangars to meet a strong demand, Loncella said.

“There is actually a waiting list for hangars at Ebensburg Airport,” Loncella said.

Hangar rent is the main source of income for maintaining and making improvements at the Ebensburg airfield, located along Route 22 just east of Route 219.

Ebensburg Borough owns the airport, but turned operations over to RACRA a few years ago. Loncella said the association will discuss options with borough leaders before deciding on the grant.

- Source:  http://www.tribdem.com