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OCTC Aviation Program Adds to Regional Airport Numbers

 Photo credit:  Andreas Faessler [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http:/creativecommon.org/license
Airport takeoffs, landings up 19% | Keith Lawrence | Source: McClatchy

Takeoffs and landings at Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport were up 19 percent in 2015, Airport Manager Bob Whitmer said Monday.

They increased from 19,364 to 22,954 -- a difference of 3,590.

"That's good," Whitmer said. "But it's not where it should be. We're working to increase our flight operations this year."

Flight operations, which include everything from Kentucky Air National Guard C-130s doing touch-and-gos on training missions, to flight instruction, to planes coming to MidAmerica Jet for maintenance, help the airport keep its control tower, he said.

The tower is in the federal budget through Sept. 30.

But the airport doesn't want to take a chance on it being dropped from the budget in the future.

The flight operations numbers are separate but similar to the commercial boardings.

Commercial boardings mean $1 million a year to the airport as long as it keeps the number of people boarding commercial flights above 10,000 a year.

Whitmer said more than 20,000 people flew commercially out of Owensboro again in 2015.

He said 2015 also saw more military traffic at the airport, including both C-130s and helicopters.

The Owensboro Air Show also increased those numbers.

Whitmer is working to recruit the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Fly-In for 2017 or 2018.

That event attracts up to 500 aircraft over a two-day period, Whitmer said.

It would also help to boost the airport's flight operations numbers.

The new 2 + 2 Aviation Education Program, where students can take their first two years at Owensboro Community & Technical College and the second two online at Eastern Kentucky University, starts this year.

Students will be able complete a college degree and train to become a commercial pilot without leaving town.

And flight instruction for that program should add even more flight operations at the airport.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

Copyright 2016 - Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.

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Published on January 19, 2016

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