Saturday, September 2, 2017

Perryville Regional Airport (KPCD) grows, additions highlighted by eclipse activities



Odds are that before Perry County began preparing for the Great American Eclipse, many residents knew very little about the Perryville Regional Airport and what it had to offer the average traveler. 

On Aug. 21, approximately 180 planes landed on the runway, and hundreds of visitors made their way to the eclipse viewing site set up at the airfield. 

For several years, the airport was largely unknown to aviators in the Midwest, and with the departure of the largest part of the company, Sabreliner, it was left unused. Nearly two years ago the property had been returned to the city, and they have been busy updating the facilities and communications to bring new business and economics back to the company. In May, the airport officially changed its title from the Perryville Municipal Airport to the Perryville Regional Airport to help inform Midwest aviators of the positive changes being made.

Airport manager Larry Dauer has been an aviator for most of his life. He was housing his aircraft at the Perryville facility when the city approached him looking for help creating a fixed base operation, or FBO, at the airport.

“Normally a fixed base operation will have a pilots’ lounge and an aviation mechanic on hand for repairs and to sell fuel,” Dauer said. “I can perform repairs when necessary, though those jobs are few and far between. Our fuel farm is up and fully operational, and the lounge is fully stocked for visitors.”

To prepare for the eclipse, Dauer worked with the city, tourism director Trish Erzfeld and the Eclipse Task Force to hammer out a plan for bringing visitors to the airport viewing site. Media exposure from researchers like Dave Bouler, who launched two high-altitude balloons during separate visits to the airport, brought attention to the additions and changes being made in Perryville.

“The Eclipse Task Force and Bouler were so well-known on social media by aviators that once they started talking about the Perryville airport viewing site, word spread and our preparation for visitors grew by leaps and bounds,” said Dauer. “It was shortly after that when the Adler Planetarium contacted us to use the site for the launch of one of their balloons as well.”

The response from eclipse airport visitors was resoundingly positive. Dauer said he is still receiving emails and phone calls praising the smooth and friendly operation of eclipse events at the airport. Guests have told him that their experiences were so positive from their visit that they shared plans to return, and not just for the 2024 eclipse.

Dauer shared one such email from Chip Gibbons of Rogers, Ark. The email read, “I wanted you to know how proud you should be of the folks who hosted the eclipse viewing at the Perryville airport. A group of us from Arkansas flew in on Sunday and camped, and were joined by several more on Monday. We really enjoyed ourselves and appreciate so much the hard work people at the airport put into making Perryville look great. Terrific planning and friendly people, we had a blast. Those of us who love the communities we live in understand what it means to have visitors leave with a positive attitude and great experience. You should be proud of your folks at the airport for how well they did. Thanks for hosting all of us, we had a great time.”

The recently opened fueling station also served multiple planes on eclipse day. Dauer reported the sale of over 2,000 gallons of the three types of aviation fuel they offer. The airport is also a location for AWOS, or automatic weather observation system. Pilots are able to tune in to a broadcast station to hear data on wind speeds, air temperature and visibility. 

“This system gives a weather report specifically from this airport,” Dauer said. “People can also call a normal telephone number to hear the exact thing that the pilots hear broadcasted.”

Dauer also shared that since Sabreliner has ceased all operations at the airport location, multiple aviation hangars are available for use. Currently, the airport is home to a growing helicopter transport and repair service.

“The city is really reaching out and looking for people who want to start aviation businesses since they have a lot of these hangars available now,” Dauer said. “There is room for things like manufacturing and maintenance. We also are proud to have Leon Basler giving flight instruction lessons at this location again. Hopefully we will be able to offer more classes and lessons in the future.”

For more information on the airport hangar availability, aviation lessons and flight services that are offered contact Larry Dauer at (618) 978-1404. To call and hear the AWOS weather account for the airport location, please call (573) 543-5390.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.perryvillenews.com

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