Airport benefitting from strong leadership

The Prineville/Crook County Airport is enjoying some prosperous times over the past couple years. Not only has it managed to land a few new businesses, like Hillsboro Aviation, they have provided a Prineville base of operation for Butler Aircraft and construction of a flying car. Airport visibility has also increased of late. The facility has hosted multiple fly-in events, drawing aviation and car enthusiasts.

In the interest of further advancing airport upgrades, Crook County is asking the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to sell 94 acres of airport land occupying the south side of Highway 126. In doing so, the airport will unload land that they have not and probably cannot use, and bring in some additional funds for facility upgrades in the process.

Airport Manager Kelly Coffelt has done an admirable job running the airport up to this point and continues to operate the facility with a forward-thinking approach. Work is under way on an airport master plan that includes infrastructure upgrades that are intended to attract more aviation businesses. The sale of this unneeded land can only help.

Also noteworthy is the county and airport leaders in prior years have twice attempted to gain FAA approval to sell the same piece of land. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, those involved didn’t see it through to completion and the land continued to sit unused.

Given Coffelt’s track record and the current oversight of the facility by City of Prineville staff and council, it is reasonable to assume this go-around will turn out better. It may take a while to navigate FAA requirements, but it seems much more likely that the current airport leaders will get the job done.

Assuming they do, it would be another win for the community and its ongoing quest for a more robust and diverse economy. Not only will the airport have more financial resources to make upgrades and attract aviation companies, 94 more acres of industrial or commercial land will come available for a business to set up shop.

The developments at the airport are something for the community to be proud of, and its continued evolution something to watch.

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