Boone County Regional Airport manager Judy McCutcheon told the board of directors this week that the Celebration in the Sky festival last weekend was a high-flying success.
There were 490 inbound and outbound aircraft operations over the length of last weekend’s balloon festival and fly-in, some of which included the skydivers on Friday.
The helicopter made 26 flights Friday night and 109 Saturday for paid rides. Boone County Airport Manager Judy McCutcheon said the crew was pleased with that turnout, which they reported was better than at another festival in Fayetteville the previous weekend, and want to return next year.
Thirty-eight aircraft flew in for the event and there were 53 airplanes on the ramp when combined with 15 local aircraft.
The fly-in in honor of local pilot Kendall Fowler, who was paralyzed after a fall through a roof just a month after passing his pilot check ride, raised $2,700 for his medical fund, McCutcheon said.
Airport board member Layne Ragsdale said Rotary was able to raise $8,552 for the Wonder Willa Park through parking fees and raffle sales for the 1974 Volkswagen Bug. She went on to say the man who won the Bug was a Rotarian from Oklahoma and he donated it back to the club.
“So, Ragsdale said, “we still have the VW, plus raised all the money as well for that,” Ragsdale said.
More than $14,000 total was raised for local non-profit agencies, with another $1,600 from Lions Club raffle and hot dog sales.
Ragsdale said that was the amount she knew about this week, but McCutcheon said the total amount of money raised is still being calculated. She promised a more complete report in October.
They all praised the Harrison Convention and Visitors Bureau for stepping in to take over organizing the festival after the Harrison Regional Chamber of Commerce announced it would no longer organize such events.
McCutcheon also reported on a training seminar hosted at the airport in August.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s Safety Team, or FAASTeam, recently held the training exercise for local first responders on how to safely respond to a plane crash.
Jamie Black, the FAASTeam program manager for air worthiness, said the course was designed for first responders, firefighters and emergency medical services who might find themselves helping with a plane crash.
It teaches them how to open hatches safely to get potential survivors out of a downed aircraft.
“And to protect themselves while they’re doing it,” he added.
McCutcheon said 87 first responders attended the training session. They had six planes on the ramp for those attendees to examine during the seminar.
“It was really a good event and I hope to do that again next year,” she said.
In her monthly report, McCutcheon said the fixed base operator sold 1,074 gallons of Avgas and 19, 504 gallons of Jet A fuel for a total of 20, 578 in August. The total was about a 3% increase over August 2018 sales.
FedEx had 19 flights carrying 155 passengers and bought 7,331 gallons of fuel.
Southern Airways had 323 outbound flights to DFW and 148 to Memphis with a load factor of 73% and a 100% completion factor. The airline purchased 8,010 gallons of fuel.
McCutcheon said the load factor for flights to Memphis was 60% and the highest since Southern started providing essential air service. The load factor in July was 47% and had been the highest up to that point.
Board member Ladd Brooks asked McCutcheon if she had any idea why the load factor would be increasing.
McCutcheon said Southern changed its schedule for summer, which took effect in May.
“People are starting to figure out where they can connect to in Memphis as well,” McCutcheon said.