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"An Airport with Few Planes"

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

An Airport with Few Planes
By Jessica Dean 
KARK-TV Ch 4 (NBC), Little Rock (AR)

A long gravel road is not an uncommon sight in rural Arkansas. Except this
gravel road leads to an airport the federal government spends thousands of
dollars on to keep open. 

On this day, we find former flight instructor Dean Fitzwater cleaning up
fertilizer spilled on the tarmac by a cropduster. One single plane sits tied
up. Lights are on but no planes land or take off. A basketball goal stands
near the strip, but no control tower, fuel station or hangar. 

"Sometimes it goes for weeks," says Fitzwater, "and sometimes it's as busy
as five or six airplanes." 

According to The Washington Post, the Woodruff County Airport is one of 88
across the United States with no paying customers and no planes based there.
Still, these aiports receive up to $150,000 annually because of legislation
passed in 2000. 

"I think if you build it, it'll get used," explains local businessman Joey
Cain. "If you're not going to improve it, it probably needs to be done away

Cain is among those who would like to see the airport developed. He flies
his own plane frequently and would like to have a convenient place to fuel
up and store the aircraft. 

"Local people here drive mostly where they go and they demand better roads,"
Cain explains. "I fly where I go and I demand a better airport." 

Cain says he would pay for his own hangar to be built, but he's afraid the
airport would lose its funding. 

The airport does serve a purpose for the agriculture community and hunters
from out of town, according to Woodruff County Judge Charles Dallas. 

There's even a plan to move a Mountain View company to the aiport and grow
from there, Dallas says. The county is working with the Arkansas Department
of Economic Development, the FAA and others to make it happen. Dallas says
if they can get a business to locate there, that could lead to hangars being
built or even a refueling station. 

 It's something many agree could bolster the Delta county and its towns. 

"Where a lot of the counties around us are growing, we're actually not
growing, our population is getting smaller," Cain says.

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