After 40 years of searching for a resolution to Bradley County’s badly constrained Hardwick Field, a brand new airport will hold its Grand Opening on January 25th.
The new Cleveland Regional Jetport, located about 30 miles north of Chattanooga will open with a host of amenities that include a $1.9 Million 8,000 sq. ft. Terminal Building, a 5,500 ft. concrete runway, hangars for transient and based aircraft and more. Construction of the airport reportedly came in at a total of $42.68 million of which $19 million were Federal, $11.73 were State, and $6.01 were local dollars. Fund raising efforts are underway to raise private financial support for the airport as well.
L to R: Clay Cook, Ken Robinson, Mayor Bragg, David Swindler – Photo By: Gerald Viveiros
Don’t let the title fool you. This is a prestigious award conceived for an honorable purpose… to improve relationships and communications between airport users, operators and city officials. And each year’s trophy is nothing short of a masterpiece crafted by AOPA member “Capt.” David L. Swindler, the PIC of Navion “Ar Farce One”. Swindler is also the award’s founder. Presentation takes place at EAA #419’s Annual Christmas Banquet by Murfreesboro’s Mayor, The Honorable Tommy Bragg, MBT’s most avid public supporter. I have witnessed a number of these presentations. They rival aviation hall of fame induction from the Mayor’s formal introduction to an always emotional acceptance by the winner.
This years MBT Airport Bun of the Year award winner was Murfeeesboro native, Mr. William Kenneth Robinson, former Operations Manager of the Arnold Engineering Development Center’s Jet & Rocket Test Center. Since retiring in 1991, he has been restoring and flying an Aeronca Champ. Robinson joined the USAF in 1947 and cut his teeth in the new world of jet propulsion as an engine mechanic stationed at Keesler, Chanute and Andrews AFB’s. Employed later by Capitol Airways, he worked on lots of round engines that powered DC-3’s, C-47’s, C-54’s and DC-4’s.
Begun in 1995, this ABY award has now been presented to 20 lucky winners, each receiving Swindler’s magnificent collectable wire model of an airplane, space vehicle or engine the recipient might own or love. I will never be MBT’s Airport Bum of the Year, but I lust for one of Dave’s extraordinary models, crafted with a depth of caring, love and dedication to general aviation so many of us feel and long to express.
Tennessee’s Higher Education Commission – Post Secondary Schools Division is regulating VA Approved, Part 141 Flight Schools under its administrative rules, Chapter 1540-01-02. I submitted our AOPA comments/objections in March of this year saying, in part “This rule discriminates against FAR Part 141 Flight Schools who have invested extraordinary amounts of money into facilities, equipment and aircraft that now must meet the Rules and pay the fees of the THEC at even more expense, thus their customers/students will have to pay more. The rule discourages establishing a Part 141 Flight School in Tennessee and the jobs that are created as well.” Tennessee’s Part 141 Flight Schools are required to comply with the THEC Rules as well as those of the Veterans Administration and the FAA. All of them differ so the financial and administrative burden is significant. It appears that we are going to have to seek a legislative solution during the upcoming session of the 108th General Assembly.
While attending the Georgia Airports Conference in late October, I spent an absolutely great afternoon at Harris County Airport (PIM) in Pine Mountain with AOPA’s ASNV, Greg Hadley and a half-dozen local pilots, all AOPA members. With a lot of help from Greg Hadley, AOPA and others were successful in saving this airport from closure only a few years ago. Some questioned the energy and effort required to accomplish that and I wish they could see this airport now. There are based airplanes where there were none; a pristine, beautifully maintained runway and ramps, new T-hangars (with a waiting list for more); a rejuvenated, charming little Terminal Building; self-fueling and reasonable fuel prices… topped by a bunch of Southern hospitality, welcoming hand-shakes and smiles that really make you feel at welcomed. While I was there one local pilot popped in the door fresh from his check-ride with a brand new Commercial Certificate in his hand and a local contractor was there for another flight lesson, looking forward to joining his partner and brother as a new pilot soon. This is such an inspiring story and place. I remember when it was not… I didn’t want to leave. Shared stories and experiences, a Cessna 150 doing touch-n-go landings with a new student in a Fall setting at this marvelous rural, resort area airport that makes flying and being a GA pilot fun, like it ought to be. There are many more of these “airport treasures”. Send me stories about the ones you find.
As Summer winds down in the South, some State Aviation & Airports Conferences get on my agenda. Tennessee’s is August 22-24 and Kentucky’s Sept. 5-7. These are great networking and learning opportunities for all attendees. I think of them as “reunions”! We aviators truly enjoy getting together and catching up on things.