Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Fuel up on fun at Granbury Airport's Pancake Breakfast Fly-In event

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Granbury Regional Airport, located at 400 Howard Clemmons Road, has served the community since its founding as Granbury Municipal Airport Aug. 1, 1963. Initially, the airport had minimal infrastructure and services, but over the decades, it has grown into a regional airport with a full suite of general aviation services. Today, the airport boasts a newly constructed 5,201-foot runway and associated taxiway system capable of supporting business jet operations. Under the leadership of Cody Mathis, Granbury Regional Airport continues to soar to new heights and strengthen the local community in many ways.

In addition to its vital aviation services, Granbury Regional Airport fosters community engagement through events like the Pancake Breakfast Fly-In, held during the summer on the fourth Saturday of each month. "The next breakfast will be on June 22 at 8 a.m. at the terminal building, sponsored by the local squadron of the Civil Air Patrol," Mathis says. "All are welcome to come and enjoy these breakfasts out on the apron amongst the airplanes, and you don't need to fly in to participate; just drive on in!"

FAMOUS FLYERS

Mathis, who has logged 60 hours in fixed-wing aircraft, loves the people he encounters in his role. He appreciates the unique position of experiencing the grassroots general aviation community and the high-profile business jet community that drives the city's economy. Reflecting on the airport's recent visitors, Mathis said, "During my time here, we've received Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's jet, Mike Lindell's jet, and rumor has it that Taylor Sheridan makes very low-key visits from time to time."

SERVICES, OPERATIONS AND FACILITIES

The airport's primary functions include fostering the traditions of the general aviation community and providing personalized, friendly service to pilots and passengers. This includes aircraft fueling and ground support. The airport handles an impressive number of aircraft operations, and Mathis projects it will surpass 60,000 annual operations by 2025.

Managing the airport is no small feat. Mathis finds the most challenging aspect of his job to be the simultaneous management of multiple development projects to foster the airport's continued growth. Despite the challenges, Mathis considers this the most rewarding experience of his career in airport management.

The airport, operational for 61 years, offers several FAA-licensed services. These include full aircraft maintenance and overhaul at Granbury Aviation Services and avionics installation and support at Avionics Technologies. It is also home to the regional maintenance facility for Air Evac Lifeteam helicopters and hosts a CareFlite air ambulance base. Additionally, the flight school "In The Pattern," recognized by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) as a Distinguished Flight School in the Central Southern region of the United States, operates a secondary base at Granbury Regional Airport.

The airport operates out of a fixed-base operator (FBO) terminal building and offers Jet-A and 100 low-lead fuel to accommodate all aircraft types. There are upwards of 75 hangars housing various piston and jet general aviation aircraft. Excitingly, several development projects are underway, including new hangars, a utility expansion project, and a new 4,000-square-foot FBO complete with a fuel farm expansion and fuel truck storage depot. These facilities will support the airport's exponential growth in business jet operations.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

“The airport significantly contributes to the local economy, with TxDOT's Aviation division estimating its annual economic impact on the community at $17 million in 2013,” Mathis says, “This figure is expected to triple by 2025 and beyond.”

The airport plays a crucial role in supporting local businesses and tourism. Many visitors fly in to spend a day or two in Granbury, visiting various companies and festivals. Mathis says, "We have several regularly returning tourists, and all these people head straight to the Square where they spend their hard-earned money at Granbury’s many eateries, shops and hotels, as well as patron the several festivals for which Granbury claims to fame." Without considering the city businesses that employ people as a direct result of the airport's contribution to tourism and the local economy, the airport also provides numerous jobs. “At any given time, there can be upwards of 100 to 120 people employed by various companies that are based at the airport," says Mathis.

ENVIRONMENTAL, SAFETY AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENT

When asked about plane accidents, Mathis says, "Like all airports, we experience the occasional flat tire upon landing. The only significant incident that has occurred during my tenure was an aircraft experiencing a failed landing gear. There were no injuries resulting from that incident."

Environmental and safety considerations are paramount at Granbury Regional Airport. The runway approach and departure corridors are designed to minimize noise pollution. " … the current generation of jet aircraft employs newer engine technologies that produce much lower decibel output than the jets of old, "Mathis says, adding, "The airport staff perform daily runway and taxiway inspections for the presence of foreign object debris (FOD)." Additionally, the airport's traffic pattern avoids flying over local schools.

Looking ahead, the airport has several major development projects in the pipeline, ensuring it can accommodate the increasing demand for general aviation services. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the grand opening of the new terminal building is scheduled for July 22 at 3 p.m.

"This is the most exciting time in the history of our airport's development," says Mathis. "In accordance with the Airport Master Plan, currently under design and/or construction are several new hangars, a utilities expansion project to support those new hangars, and a new 4,000-square-foot FBO complete with a fuel farm expansion and fuel truck storage depot that will all be located adjacent to the new runway. These facilities will support the airport's exponential growth of business jet operations."

AVIATION AND STUDENTS

Granbury Regional Airport engages with the local community through events and educational initiatives. Granbury High School's aerospace engineering course, which includes building an airplane, holds its maiden flights at the airport. The airport also hosts local school field trips, providing students with a hands-on aviation experience. After Granbury Middle School’s staff voiced its appreciation of the tours they experienced, Mathis said, " … it has only reinforced my personal belief that reaching young people is the basis for securing the future of general aviation."