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Middletown could boost airport funding as it prepares to take over operations

Middletown City Council Tuesday will consider a large supplemental appropriation for the Middletown Regional Airport. The city is in the process of taking over the Fixed-Based Operator responsibilities at the end of the year. FILE PHOTO An airplane takes off from Middletown Regional Airport/Hook Field Wednesday, May 25 in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Middletown City Council Tuesday will consider a large supplemental appropriation for the Middletown Regional Airport. The city is in the process of taking over the Fixed-Based Operator responsibilities at the end of the year. FILE PHOTO An airplane takes off from Middletown Regional Airport/Hook Field Wednesday, May 25 in Middletown. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Middletown City Council will consider a large supplemental appropriation as the city moves forward with its plan to take over the operations at Middletown Regional Airport at the end of the year.

Matt Eisenbraun, assistant economic development director, said in late June the city notified Start Aviation, the current operator , that its contract would not be renewed when it expires on Dec. 31.

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“Small- and medium-sized airports are taking over the (operator) duties,” he said. “We’d like to fold our … operations with our new education program with Cincinnati State and Butler Tech so someone could get a degree in airport management.”

The $178,500 fund transfer and supplemental appropriation being considered Tuesday by council will provide the funding necessary to resolve unforeseen maintenance issues, additional expenditures on maintenance equipment, and expenses related to the transition of the operations and manager responsibilities, and development support, according to Eisenbraun’s staff report.

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The additional funding would enable city airport officials to do tasks including:

• Acquire and replace equipment

• Make repairs to the HVAC in two hangars as well as other repairs to the JETS hangar

• Take over mowing of the drop zone area

• Take an emergency repair to the electric feed cable at the north end of the runway

• Acquire a snow plow truck

• Acquire a new finish mower

• Acquire a airplane tug

• Install supplemental conduit for fiberoptic cable along the entire length of the airport

• Additional marketing efforts

Most of the airport’s infrastructure has been upgraded in the past several years with grants from the FAA and the Ohio Department of Transportation. City officials say the next big project will be repaving the runway, which is one of the longest in Ohio.

The airport recently received funding from the FAA to develop an updated airport layout master plan. In 2017, the airport received funding to rehab and repave its ramps, taxiways and aprons.

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The new $490,000 airport master plan and airport layout is expected to be completed and sent to the FAA for review by the end of this year. Eisenbraun said the FAA review is expected to take at least six months. After the FAA review and approval, the city can begin seeking funding to rehabilitate and repave the main runway.

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More than $2.4 million has been spent on airport improvements with federal and state funding in the past five years, Eisenbraun said. The city’s match for those projects has been about $250,000.

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The city is also working on the design for the new education hangar that will be constructed with a $750,000 grant State Capital Improvement Funds. The hangar will be used to support educational programs relating to aviation and aviation support. City officials envision developing a hub for aircraft maintenance at the airport. In addition, Cincinnati State is developing an avionics and electronics component program for its Middletown campus.

Eisenbraun said the city is still working with Start Aviation and Start Skydiving about relocating their current operations to a new location at the airport.

Fast facts about Middletown Regional Airport/Hook Field

  • The general aviation airport features the longest uncontrolled asphalt runway in Ohio at 6,100 feet. It is the longest runway in Butler and Warren counties and is one of the longest in southwest Ohio.
  • The airport's main runway can accommodate jet aircraft as large as a Boeing 757.
  • There is also a 3,040 foot turf runway at the airport.
  • The airport also offers private, commercial and helicopter pilot training.
  • It is the home of Start Skydiving and Team Fastrax.
  • Approximately 110 aircraft are based at Middletown Regional Airport which logs more than 40,000 aircraft operations annually and sells 400,000 gallons of aviation fuel each year. The airport is in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • The airport contains 13 city-owned buildings that consists of 66 T-Hangar units, two 50 foot by 50 foot aircraft hangar units, an 8,000 square-foot Terminal Building, a 24,000 square-foot maintenance hangar, and 39,000 square feet of corporate/community hangar space. The city also owns and operates a 40,000 gallon above ground aviation fuel storage facility