Area airports to get updatesThe federal government recently awarded funds to two area airports and airport officials say facilities and equipment will be updated with the money.
By: Beth Wischmeyer, The Dickinson Press
The federal government recently awarded funds to two area airports and airport officials say facilities and equipment will be updated with the money.
Mott Municipal Airport will get $214,387 to rehabilitate the apron and taxi-way, which is badly needed, said Rex Kelsch, manager.
“Our runway is about 30 years old and it needs maintenance so we are getting a new asphalt runway and ramp as well as new runway lights,” he said. “They are to start construction mid-July and finish around September.”
The airport will also receive more than $1 million from the stimulus package, he added.
Hettinger Municipal Airport will get about $109,000 to rehabilitate the terminal, which will go to good use, said manager J.B. Lindquist.
“The funds will go toward crack repairs, buying another snowblade and some terminal updates,” Lindquist said. “We’ll also be replacing our rotating beacon which is about 15 to 20 years old and keeps blowing fuses.”
While neither of the airports carries passengers commercially, smaller private planes and aircraft used for farming take advantage of the airports, the managers say.
“It’s mainly an agricultural airport, a lot of spray planes use it,” Kelsch said. “During hunting season it’s used for private airplanes. It’s used quite a bit by business people. They might land here and need to go to points around Mott.”
Hettinger’s airport was established in 1932, Lindquist said.
“We have private planes and some physicians that come in from Rapid City and Bismarck at the airport,” Lindquist said, adding they get about 500 flights through the airport per year.
Kelsch said the airport, which Mott purchased in 1968, originally had a charter business. Changing laws and insurance costs made it no longer financially viable and the charter was dropped around 1982. An air ambulance service was also part of the airport’s original set up.
“Rules and regulations have made it so difficult for a small operator to continue that service,” Kelsch said. “There is a lot of ‘used to be,’ around here.”
The airport still offers flight instruction. Airport traffic ranges from about 25 planes going in and out per month in Mott, Kelsch said, and “a lot” of traffic during pheasant season.
Costs to fill cracks on the runway are expensive, Kelsch said, adding it’s about $25,000 for a crack sealing job.
To complete construction and repairs, the airport will be closed from around July until the end of the summer, Kelsch said.
Lindquist believes the Hettinger airport won’t have to close during the summer projects.
Kelsch has been with the airport for about 20 years and said one of the goals of updating the airport is to bring in more customers.