A Gulfstream corporate jet used by Texas Gov. Rick Perry landed at Carroll Airport during a GOP presidential campaign visit by Perry.
A Gulfstream corporate jet used by Texas Gov. Rick Perry landed at Carroll Airport during a GOP presidential campaign visit by Perry.
Thursday, September 6, 2012

The day after the Iowa State-Iowa football clash, there will be a lot more touchdowns — of the aviation sort — at Carroll’s Arthur N. Neu Airport.

The annual Flight Breakfast and Plane Show will be Sunday, and airport manager Don Mensen says, “It looks like it’s going to be nice weather (the forecast is sunny and high 78). Come out and enjoy the sights of the aircraft landing and taking off as well as a great breakfast by the Masons.”

The Carroll Masonic Lodge will serve pancakes, eggs, sausage, orange juice and coffee from 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the main hangar. Cost is $7 for adults and $5 for children 6-12, while children 5 and younger can eat for free.

Proceeds go to scholarships the Masonic Lodge will award to local high school seniors.

Last year’s breakfast served nearly 1,200, as the event has been highly popular.

“It’s great to see the community come out and support the Masons as well as see the airport the city has to offer the aviation community,” Mensen says.

Mensen and airport officials welcome the public to view the air traffic as well as the many dramatic improvements made to the airport over the last several years. Those have included:

— Construction of a 5,500-by-100-foot main runway, replacing the previous 4,000-by-75-foot runway.

— Construction of a 3,300-by-60-foot paved crosswind runway.

— Updating hangar facilities, razing dilapidated ones. The airport now has 20 T-hangars plus the shop hangar. Hangar rental space is kept for two or three planes. If a big aircraft needs to be parked overnight in the shop hangar, there’s room to move planes to provide space. The shop was improved with insulation, heating system, flooring and door.

— Improvement of concrete ramps and concrete taxiways to the hangar areas.

— Installation of a modern fueling system.

— Extensive renovation of the airport terminal, providing conference space, a pilots rest area, a kitchen, and computer area to check on flight information. The airport now has a GPS-based approach system, replacing its former World War II-era technology.

— Most recently, the airport completed a 5,500-by-30-foot parallel taxiway to the main runway, which prevents the possibility of aircraft taxiing for takeoff at the same time a plane is landing. Installation of lights and landscaping completed the project.

Those improvements support an airport that, according to Federal Aviation Administration and State Department of Aviation statistics, averages 700 to 800 landings a month.

“The Carroll airport is one of the busiest in western Iowa for an airport that doesn’t have airline service,” says Carroll Airport Commission chairman Norm Hutcheson.

Hutcheson notes that state and federal funds have paid for the vast majority of projects’ expenses.

“We’ve been very fortunate in getting funds from the FAA and State Department of Transportation to help us out with projects,” he says. “And you have to have good projects, or they wouldn’t do that.”

Hutcheson says the airport plays a major role in the Carroll area’s economic vitality, as business planes owned by major employers in the community, agricultural firms, and professional people account for much of the traffic.

“We sell as much jet fuel as we do gasoline, and we have numerous large corporate jets visit,” Hutcheson says.

For instance, in recent months Hutcheson has taken photos at the Carroll airport of an agricultural company’s Challenger 300 jet, Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s Gulfstream jet and helicopter’s accompanying an Iowa tour by President Obama.

Hutcheson points out the airport has single-point-fueling equipment needed by larger jets. That system refuels through a bottom fuselage rather than climbing over an aircraft wing and refueling similar to a vehicle tank.

“We always receive nice comments about the airport, the facilities and the terminal building,” Hutcheson says.

Mensen, “The people flying in are very impressed with how well the city supports the airport as far as giving the needed equipment and facility upgrades to keep it top-notch.”

For airplane traffic on Sunday, Mensen says the event has drawn pilots with everything from small single-engine and antique-type planes to light twin-engine planes.

The breakfast, which serves free meals to visiting pilots and their passengers, attracts traffic from about a 70-mile area, and last year there were about 30 visiting planes.

On Sunday, in addition to enjoying the breakfast, airport visitors can also get a bird’s-eye look at the area. Both Carroll Aviation and Iowa Helicopter of Ankeny will be offering rides. Carroll Aviation provides charter and pilot-training services and has a single-engine Piper Archer and light-twin-engine Piper Seneca. Mensen and wife, Amy, have operated Carroll Aviation since March 1998.

Airplane rides will be $30 per person, while helicopter rides will be $40 for adults and $35 for youths.

Currently there are 21 planes, including the two Carroll Aviation aircraft, hangared at the airport.

The airport recently purchased a new tractor and mower, and a new snowplow is on order.

The airport maintains grounds surrounding about 5½ miles of runway lighting, Hutcheson says.

Carroll County is now resurfacing the mile of Quail Avenue from the U.S. 30 corner south to the airport driveway. Mensen says the driveway will be repaved likely in the next couple of years.