Thursday, September 21, 2017

Springfield-Branson National Airport (KSGF), Greene County, Missouri: Private 'jet jam' from Wonders of Wildlife dignitaries, celebrities

A record number of private planes flew into the Springfield-Branson National Airport Wednesday, according to airport spokesman Kent Boyd.

An influx of VIPs — including former U.S. presidents, movie stars, music stars and NASCAR drivers — visiting Springfield for Wonders of Wildlife's grand opening caused a "jet jam," Boyd said.

Boyd shared photos of lines of private jets, as well as Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush walking across the tarmac, to the airport's Facebook page.

"To say we ran out of parking spaces is an understatement. The general aviation ramp was full. The cargo ramp was full. Flight school ramp full. The customs ramp? Full. The general aviation staff parked them tight — sometimes wingtip to wingtip," Boyd wrote on social media.

On a typical day, staff working in general aviation — where privately owned planes are parked and serviced — may be responsible for 15 private jets, Boyd said. Four or five may stay overnight.

On the night of the Wonders of Wildlife gala, that number jumped to 63 planes, according to Boyd.

That number doesn't include "drop and goes," Boyd told the News-Leader, when planes dropped off individuals before taking off again.

At one point Wednesday afternoon, eight private jets landed in a span of 20 minutes, Boyd said.

A total of nine general aviation staffers were on duty Wednesday, Boyd told the News-Leader. Among other things, they're responsible for parking and servicing planes, shuttling passengers to the terminal and coordinating ground transportation for customers.

General aviation staff pumped 18,990 gallons of jet fuel in one day, Boyd said. On an average day, they pump about 4,000 gallons.

"A huge shout-out to our general aviation staff!" Boyd wrote.

Boyd said sometimes general aviation staff will take photos with celebrities who touch down in Springfield, but on Wednesday, they were too busy to do so.

Boyd said it was the busiest general aviation day in the airport's history.

The Wonders of Wildlife's star-studded gala guest list included former Presidents Carter and Bush, actors Mark Wahlberg and Kevin Costner, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, country music stars Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, John Anderson, Chris Janson, Tracy Byrd, Easton Corbin and Craig Morgan and NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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