Winchester Municipal Airport has been a busy place recently with increased fuel sales and a greater aircraft presence. An added boost has been having Erlanger Medical Center’s LIFE FORCE helicopter ambulance service based at the airport.
At the last meeting of the City Council, Zachary Colescott, Winchester Municipal Airport manager, discussed the last quarter telling the council that the traffic is up and they have been very busy.
This year they have seen their best fuel sales ever.
“We sold 127,644 gallons so far of both fuel and avgas, put that in perspective, and six years ago we sold just 62,000 gallons,” Colescott said.
He added that even with the cost of fuel down overall, the sales are impressive and point to the increase in both traffic at the airport as well as a good amount of repeat customers.
“We’ve been very busy and have increased the number of tenants to 41 permanently based aircraft which is five more than we had last year and we now have some 30 on a hangar waiting list,” Colescott said.
He also discussed the groundbreaking event in November for the new Med-Trans Air Medical Transport group which drew 100 people.
He is continuing to work with the air ambulance service on engineering plans for its permanent facility. Right now the group is working out of temporary quarters. Colescott noted that a new lease would have to be signed once plans for the permanent facility are drawn up. Construction should begin on that this year.
Colescott then discussed an incident in mid-December that required closing the airport.
In a torrential downpour, at about 2 a.m. on December 17, a cargo plane out of Pontiac, Mich. hydroplaned on landing and ran straight off the end of the runway, then became stuck in the mud.
There were no injuries or damage to the plane, but the airport remained closed until the next morning when it was determined the stuck plane would not affect take-offs or landings.
The airport was also closed for several hours a few days later when the recovery operation began to get the plane out of the mud an onto the runway. All was accomplished and the plane was flown back to Michigan.
Colescott then told the City Council about flying his own plane with several hundred pounds of food and supplies to South Carolina to aid people in communities there stricken by major flooding.
“Over the course of that weekend, other pilots and planes brought in some 6,000 pounds of needed supplies and I was very proud to be part of that effort,” Colescott said.
Over the last quarter, Colescott reported that the airport was able to purchase .9 of an acre of land that will be left as undeveloped open space. He said the airport had been encouraged to buy undeveloped land on approaches to the airport when it became available to preserve the open spaces boarding and surrounding the facilities.
Colescott also discussed the construction of an 80 x80 storage hangar which is currently underway. He said it could be used to house transient aircraft.
Application has also been made to the FAA and TDOT Aeronautics to relocate a weather station which would allow for more space to store aircraft.
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