County seeks answers
on airport from existing,
proposed sites in other counties
County effort stalled by lack of funds
(December 2007) Four Kentucky counties have recently
opened, or will soon open, general aviation airports, while another
eight are considering similar projects. In this wave of airports springing
up all over the area, Oldham County doesnt want to be left out.
Airports have been established at Bowman Field in Louisville, and in
Indiana at the Georgetown-Scott County Airport and Clark County Airport,
Lee Bottom Flying Field in Hanover, plus an extended runway added to
the Madison (Ind.) Municipal Airport. An effort has been under way for
some time to establish a regional airport near Carrollton to serve Carroll,
Gallatin and Owen counties, as well as the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta,
map show the three locations
that are being considered for
the Oldham County Airport.
It takes time and money, said Carroll County
Judge-Executive Harold "Shorty" Tomlinson. Efforts have stalled
momentarily for a tri-county airport to be built near the Kentucky Speedway
in Gallatin County due to a lack of funding.
After considering 10 possible sites, the list was narrowed to one. Appraisals
were sought and, in a lot of peoples minds, the project was not
as accurate as it should have been, said Tomlinson. Another hindrance
was that the property owners wanted more money than we had committed.
Although the project received federal funding a few years ago for a
feasibility study, everything is tight now, Tomlinson said.
The state has talked about putting more money into it, but were
still short. Rural counties dont have the money to invest in a
project like this.
Right now, Tomlinson is more focused on highway and bridge needs
versus an airport. Im not saying an airport would not be a good
thing down the road, but his county needs highway and bridge repairs
for commuting structures that are used every day.
Tomlinson said there an airport could benefit the tri-county area in
three ways: Carroll County has a solid industry base, which could use
an airport to fly in management, goods and services; if the Kentucky
Speedway were to land a major race, an airport would be convenient to
fly in drivers and tourists; and he suggested that the Belterra Casino
Resort and Spa, located just across the Ohio River near Vevay, Ind.,
might also benefit from a nearby airport.
The Georgetown-Scott County Airport, which opened in 1993, has been
used as a model for many new airports in Kentucky. Jonathan Westbrook,
chairman of the Oldham County Airport Board, said that Paul Steely,
commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Aviation, directed the board
to examine this airport.
The Oldham County Airport Board took a field trip there and talked to
its board. We also tried to learn as much as we could about Bowman
Field and the Clark County Airport, Westbrook said.
He said that in Georgetown, Toyota other corporations uses the airport
to move people and goods in and out of the Scott County. In Oldham County,
airport supporters say the newly opened Rawlings Co. In La Grange could
also benefit from an airport.
The Lee Bottom Flying Field, south of Hanover, Ind., on the Ohio River
bottom, is owned and operated by pilots Ginger and Rich Davidson. Mostly
charter sized planes and privately owned planes use the 100-acre grass
This airport has about 5,000 operations a year and has been growing
every year for the past decade, said Rich Davidson, 39. If it were not
there, the closest airport for pilots to use would be the Madison Municipal
There is none like ours within 100 miles, said Davidson,
because we are a public-use grass runway. We meet all the same
specifications that all county airports use.
Davidson said the runway is what attracts many people to Lee Bottom
Flying Field so much so, that he organizes a fly-in event
every year in September for vintage aircrafts. The Wood, Fabric and
Tailwheels Fly-In began 10 years ago with 28 planes; 425 showed up this
year. Most aircraft were made from 1927 to 1956.
Of the 1,800 people who attended, half were from more than 200 miles
away, he said. People flew or drove in from San Diego, Ft. Myers, Fla.,
Vermont, Australia, South Africa and England, to name a few. This one
event brought $304,800 into Jefferson County, Ind., for the weekend,
excluding what economic impact the airport has on the county the rest
of the year, Davidson said.
The thing about flying is that in the early days, people embraced
more of what flying was about freedom, said Davidson.
As a recreation, he says flying appeals to all ages.
Davidson said a general aviation airport in Oldham County would be "absolutely
beneficial." Most of his friends live there, and he favors the
Airport Board's proposed site that borders Oldham and Shelby counties.
It is amazing to me that every town in the world wants an interstate,
but you mention an airport, and its like Satan entered the room.
He says an airport could be built for $500,000. You could add
a connection to the entire world for $500,000, he said. A
large percentage of the Louisville and Clark County Airport users are
there because there is no airport in Oldham County. An airport would
have no problem having business.
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