Aeronautics Commission Approves $800,000 in Grants for Oklahoma Airports

The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission (OAC) recently approved Capital Improvement Program grants totaling nearly $800,000 for pavement projects at airports in PoteauTulsa and Claremore.

“These airports are critical to their local communities insofar as commerce, medical care, law enforcement and flight training. These grants will ensure that the airports are safe and meeting the needs of these communities,” said Victor Bird, director of the Aeronautics Commission.

A $380,000 state grant was approved for a project at Robert S. Kerr Airport in Poteau that entails reconstructing the connecting taxiway and a portion of the main apron. The city of Poteau will provide $20,000 in matching funds.

Officials said the pavement condition at the airport is at a point of deterioration that could affect the safety of pilots flying in and out of the airport. The reconstruction project will alleviate those concerns.

“Our community leaders are thrilled that OAC chose to approve this grant for our airport, and we are very appreciative. Funding projects like this in rural Oklahoma helps ensure a system of quality airports regardless of their location which, in turn, helps our state compete more favorably with other states,” said Poteau Mayor Jeff Shockley.

Robert S. Kerr Airport is home to 31 based aircraft belonging to a variety of individuals and businesses located in and around Poteau. Among those area businesses that use the airport are Kelworth Trucking, the Bill White Auto Mall, satellite provider Southern Star and Elite Trailers.

R.L. Jones Airport located in south Tulsa was approved for a nearly $290,000 state grant for an overlay project for a taxiway that leads to a hangar area. The project will strengthen and extend the life of the taxiway pavement, which is needed due to an increase in the number of heavier business jets being serviced in that part of the airport, officials said.

“We’ve seen a large uptick in the number of larger aircraft in recent years being serviced and worked on in that area (of the airport),” said Jeff Hough, deputy airports director. “This is an upgrade we had planned when the time came, and the time is here. We certainly appreciate the Aeronautics Commission’s support for this project and their support for the businesses operating on that side of the airport.”

R.L. Jones is one of the busiest general aviation airports in the nation with more than 200,000 takeoffs and landings annually. More than 500 aircraft are based at the airport, including aircraft owned and operated by local businesses such as Kimberly Clark, Unit Drilling, Laredo Petroleum and the Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology.

The Tulsa Airport Improvement Trust, the airport’s governing sponsor, will contribute $14,700 in matching funds for the taxiway project.

Commissioners also approved a $126,000 grant for the city of Claremore that will be used to extend the north taxilane at Claremore Regional Airport another 285 feet. Officials said the extension will allow for the construction of additional hangars, which will help the airport gain more revenue and, in turn, become more self-sufficient.

Claremore will provide $6,600 in matching funds for the taxilane extension project.

“The upcoming OAC grant for the taxiway extension is essential for the future development at Claremore Regional Airport,” said Airport Manager Eric Winn. “Currently, there are no available land lots to lease or T-hangars to rent. The addition of the new taxiway will enable construction of a 10 block T-hangar building as well as the ability to lease six 60-foot by 60-foot private hangar lots to better serve our customers.”

Nearly 50 aircraft are based at Claremore Regional Airport, many of which are flown by nearby businesses such as G.A.P. Roofing in Pryor and Norman Bechtold DBA Architectural Millwork in Tulsa.

The state of Oklahoma has an extensive airport system comprised of 110 public airports, including 49 regional business airports located in every corner of the state and areas in between. Forty-three of those 110 airports boast jet-capable runways of at least 5,000 feet in length, which can accommodate almost any type of business jet.