Alma Municipal Airport manager Ron Hawley, left, and Alma City Administrator Doug Wilson planned the construction of the new terminal at the airport. Wilson said it took two years to build the reserves in the city budget to pay for 10 percent of the $550,000 building, and Hawley traveled Nebraska and Kansas to get ideas for the layout of the building during the same time. Hawleys 1967 Mooney M20F is stored at the city's hangar.
When pilots drop into Alma's Municipal Airport for fuel, they will soon have a place to use the bathroom, relax, get a snack and plan their remaining flight at the new airport terminal. Construction on the 1,250 square-foot building began in April and is expected to be complete in June.
ALMA — Private pilots flying through Nebraska soon will have greater incentive to stop at Alma Municipal Airport.
Alma City Administrator Doug Wilson said nearby Harlan Lake draws many pilots to Alma, population 1,100, but the amenities offered at the airport also are an incentive for them to land.
Construction began on a 1,250-square-foot airport terminal in April, and it is anticipated to be complete in June. It will offer bathrooms, a snack bar, pilots room and lounge. The exterior will feature brick veneer, which will be done this week, Wilson said.
Currently, the airport offers self-service fuel and port-a-potties. Wilson said the airport will be a nice place for pilots to relax, plan their flight and use the restroom.
Airport Manager Ron Hawley said there will be comfortable furniture in the lounge; a refrigerator, microwave and vending machines in the snack bar area; and computers will be available to check weather reports in the pilots room.
“If you don’t have the facility here, they’re not going to stop,” he said.
A pilot himself, Hawley said the terminal is going to be a nice facility for pilots.
This is not the first time the city has updated its airport, which was built in the mid-1980s. In 2011, the self-service fuel station was installed. In 2013, the sod runway was paved, two hangars were built, and runway lights, a beacon and precision approach path indicator were added.
There are four hangars at the airport. Those house 13 local aircraft. One hangar is owned by the city.
Hawley said fuel sales tripled when the latest improvements were made, and he believes sales will double again once the terminal is complete.
He hopes more traffic will also be good for business in Alma. The airport is on the outskirts, so the city will provide courtesy cars for pilots to drive to town.
“The more activity we have out here, that helps downtown activity,” Hawley said.
He said the airport currently provides an opportunity for engineers working on Harlan Lake gates, fishermen and hunters to land their planes. He said the new terminal may also be incentive for specialists from other cities to fly in to work at Harlan County Health System in Alma.
Hawley said it took a couple years to plan the building project. During that time, he and others flew to seven or eight airports in Nebraska and Kansas to get ideas for the terminal. They modeled much of their design on Jim Kelly Field at Lexington.
Wilson said it also took a couple of years to build reserves to pay 10 percent of the $550,000 construction cost. He said the remaining 90 percent is covered through grants from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Wilson and Hawley said they want to continually make additions to the airport. The next thing on their wish list is to build another hangar, and several years from now, Wilson said, they would like to hire an airplane mechanic.
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