Unfortunately, the Great Depression caused this field to close in 1922. In 1929, the Eno Airport was opened on 200 acres south of East Lawn Cemetery. This is the area on the south side of Business U.S. Highway 20. Aircraft parking and runways were in the approximate area of Menards and the new post office. Reminders of this airport remain today in the form of the rounded roof buildings used by G&K Uniform Services along with the small yellow and white houses just east of Slumberland Furniture.
The current airport north of the city was dedicated on Oct. 4, 1952, with commercial air service being provided by Braniff Airlines operating the DC-3 aircraft. As the jet age emerged, expansion of the airport took place in 1974 to accommodate Ozark Airlines and its DC-9 jet service. In 2005, the airport extended the shorter runway to allow the airlines to operate in and out of the airport when the longer of the two runways was out of service. This happens periodically due to maintenance, rehabilitation or weather issues. Along with the runway expansions, other airport improvement projects have occurred through the years to keep the airport facility viable in an ever-changing environment.
Aviation and our airport play an important part of America’s multi-model transportation infrastructure linking our citizens and businesses with one another and the world.
But aviation is more than just a means of transportation. It also plays a critical role in offering greater economic opportunities to businesses and surrounding communities. Our airport serves as a catalyst for business enterprise, job growth and investment. This important fact is understood and supported by our local commercial businesses and industries, our airport commission and our City Council.
The exciting projects currently under way are a terminal renovation project and the installation of aircraft self-fueling pumps. Installing aircraft self-fueling pumps allows the airport to be more viable by providing 24-hour access to fuel services for corporate and private aircraft.
To meet the needs of our customers, the airport has also gone wireless. By offering free Internet access to our customers we provide another advantage of flying Fort Dodge.
Phase I of the terminal renovation project addresses the oldest section of the terminal. This area is utilized by the commercial and private pilots along with our corporate business travelers. When completed, this will be a dramatic positive change to the image Fort Dodge will present as a first and last impression to those who travel here by air. More and more companies are utilizing private and charter aircraft to meet the needs of their demanding schedules. Our airport commission and council understand that we can no longer afford to miss out on these critical first impressions that may affect business decisions about our community as a choice for retention, expansion, and new growth.
Phase II renovation plans for the improvements necessary to meet the needs of commercial aviation, now and in the future. Our terminal was not designed for the security demands that will continue to be part of the world we live in today and tomorrow. Renovation of terminal facilities is vital to attract and keep customers. In addition to sending an important message to the airlines that we understand that a vital airport facility will add to their benefit and enable them to be successful while providing air service to Fort Dodge. Just like so many other businesses in our community, the survival of our commercial air service will depend upon the customers making the choice to fly in and out of Fort Dodge.
An airport has been part of Fort Dodge in some way for almost 89 years. The current facility continues to improve and be a strong economic engine for our community. I submit in a concise statement — an airport runway can be considered the most important ‘‘main street’’ of any town.
Rhonda Chambers is aviation director of the Fort Dodge Regional Airport.