Flying local

Original concrete air carrier apron at Fort Dodge Regional Airport was installed in 1952, and has seen better days

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Rhonda Chambers, Fort Dodge Regional Airport director of aviation, shows off a section of damaged apron in front of the terminal. The apron is scheduled to be replaced this summer.

The original concrete air carrier apron in front of the terminal at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport has seen better days.

It was installed in 1952 when the airport was constructed at its current location north of Fort Dodge.

It’s being replaced with a brand new up-to-date apron this summer.

Work is getting started. Concrete and dirt core samples are being taken this week.

Rhonda Chambers, the airport’s director of aviation, said that in addition to offering a new surface that can handle the weight of a Boeing 737 in its entire area, the new apron will also be a bit larger to accommodate those occasional large aircraft.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Workers put some finishing touches on the doors of the new aircraft hangar being built at the Fort Dodge Regional Airport. Additional units of the same dimension can be added on at left, eventually making a row.

“We’re expanding it a bit so they can turn more easily,” she said.

Chambers said the work will be done in three phases so that air operations can continue normally. The airport, she said. will remain open during all of the work and Air Choice One flights will continue as scheduled. There are three separate taxi ways that connect the runways to the apron, and at least one of those will remain open during the work.

“Our plan is not to close the airport,” she said.

She hopes to be able to show off the completed work for a special occasion.

“It should be open and ready for the Sept. 15 Honor Flight,” she said.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $2,844, 371. The FAA is funding part of it with a $2,487,371 grant. The state of Iowa’s share is $80,533 and the city of Fort Dodge has allocated $276,375,

Nearby, work on a new hangar is nearing completion.

The 60-by-60-foot structure features a 18 foot high door.

It’s intended to accommodate mid-sized planes to small commercial jets.

“We tore down two old hangars from the 1960s,” Chambers said. “In the future, we can expand this one into a whole row of hangars as we get funding or as they’re needed.”

The project also includes additional concrete work for plane access. The new hangar is insulated and heated.

The total cost of the project is $569,000. Chambers said future additions to the hangar will be much less costly.

“There’s a lot we had to do that doesn’t have to be done for the remaining ones,” she said.

She said it’s a value added addition to the airport and makes it more attractive to plane owners looking for a home airport.

“A new hangar is what people who have aircraft are looking for,” she said. “This makes the airport more attractive to owners. We have an excellent facility here. We just need newer hangars.”

Chambers also said that Air Choice One has had an excellent track record at the airport and that their flights, are being well utilized.

“So far in 2018,” she said. “There’s been a 26 percent increase through the end of April in the number of people flying.”

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