An airport can be an economic hub for small communities, often bringing in extra business and employment. With that backdrop, the Glasgow airport saw a change in management at the end of last year along with the welcome of Cape Air.
With changes still taking place as Valley County takes over airport management, a new airport manager has been added to the staff. Other ideas for upcoming projects, such as an additional hanger and perhaps a future fly-in, have been thrown around to help bring revenue and continue to bring support for the local airport.
County Commissioner Dave Pippin explained that the airport is self-sustaining now, and that fuel sales are steady, with hopes of going up during the busier summer months. He said that in the first 30 days the county took over the airport, they saw 184 planes come in and out.
Fuel sales slowed down soon after, as cold weather and winter storms hit the area. New airport manager Lucas Locke, who was among several applicants for the job, said that sales of fuel were close to 6,000 gallons in the month of January.
This spring, Pippin explained, they’ll be focusing on equipment upgrades and getting caught up on some maintenance.
“We’re very optimistic and we’d like to see a new hanger, which would add rent to the income,” Pippin said.
Stat Air is the biggest customer of the local airport, and Francis Deacon Memorial Hospital (FMDH) also brings several doctors and surgeons in and out through the use of the airport. Pippin added that the airport helps bring advanced medical treatment to the rural area.
Locke explained that the airport he just came from in Alma, Mich., was around the same size as the Glasgow airport. He’s been settling into the area and said he went for the opportunity when it came up to manage the airport. He said that the county has another full time staff working, and their in the process of looking for another part time worker for maintenance.
He explained that they have been discussing a 100-foot wide by 120-foot long hanger, but they are looking at funding first. They are also thinking about a fly-in that could bring in more people from outside areas involved in the Montana Pilots Association and more involvement from the community. Locke has spent 17 years in aviation and was interested at a young age. His focus on the Glasgow airport has been working out some of the kinks with the changes.
“We want to keep customer service up and going, and we want to see more fuel traffic,” Locke said.
Currently they are working on updating the taxiways, funded by a grant through the Federal Aviation Administration. The county had a 5 percent match, and the state had a 5 percent match. Locke said that the wet winters can create some issues with the asphalt and with the runway lights, so ongoing upkeep would be needed.