GA is booming in the Bluegrass State.
According to Steve Parker, Deputy Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Aviation, state officials are in the midst of a push to enhance existing GA airports and add to the number of GA airports in the state.
“Kentucky has been a little behind in the number of general aviation airports,” he said. “Our goal is to have every citizen within 30 minutes of an airport with a 4,000 to 5,000 foot runway.”
Building an airport is not a quick project, he said. “It can take 10 years or more, but it is happening. Last year we opened Williamsburg Airport in Whitely County, and one in Marion. In August we opened one in Moorehead and next month we have one opening in Hancock County on the Ohio River.”
Parker noted that it is important to have good quality airports because they are economic engines for communities.
“We hear that time and time again,” he said. “Businesses take that into account when they are looking for a community, so the first step in building an airport is getting local community leaders excited about the idea. You can’t build an airport without local support. Counties have realized if you don’t have a good-sized airport — that is one with at least a 4,000 to 5,000 foot runway — businesses will look at you and rule you out because you are behind the times.”
Once a community expresses interest in having a new airport, the long and expensive process of site selection, environmental research, fund acquisition and getting approval from the FAA begins.
“You have to be on the FAA’s list in order to get the funding because the FAA usually picks up about 90% of the cost,” Parker explained.
In addition to building new airports, the State Department of Aviation is enhancing facilities already in existence.
“In some cases that means building terminals or making improvements on the ones that are already there,” Page said. “We want people to have a good first impression.”
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