Clay County Lures Larger Planes with Longer Runway

A new terminal building, an extended runway, new runway lights and other improvements at the Clay County Regional Airport will give the region a much-needed economic boost.

The renovations on the county-owned airport in Mosby will allow larger planes to land, something county officials are counting on to help bring economic development to Clay County and turn the surrounding area into a light-industrial and business hub.

Work on the airport included extending the runway and taxiway to the north from 4,000 feet to 5,500 feet.

The majority of the $6.1 million project was funded through state and federal grants. Officials acquired additional funding to buy a new instrument landing system and lighting that will allow planes to land in inclement weather, said Duane Jackson, airport director.

Other work included construction of an $182,900 terminal. The work is complete except for wiring and other electrical work, Jackson said.

The new terminal includes space for a private fixed-based operator who will be hired to manage the airport, Presiding Commissioner Carol McCaslin said.

The company hired to manage the airport probably will develop and oversee a flight-training school, McCaslin said.

A portion of the funding for the new terminal came from a $75,000 donation from former U.S. Rep. Pat Danner of Missouri. Commissioners named the terminal in honor of Danner.

At one time, the airport's maintenance hangar doubled as the terminal, which limited restroom access after business hours and left no room for pilots to relax, attend meetings or greet visitors.

The new terminal will include a meeting area, a pilot's lounge and a reception area. The majority of the renovation work is expected to be completed this summer, Jackson said.

The county recently decided to build 16 additional hangars. The move was delayed while officials discussed whether to build a corporate hangar for larger planes or single unit t-hangar for smaller aircraft. Construction is expected to begin in the spring and completed by the summer.

"It is unique for a county to have an airport," County Administrator Gary Panethiere said. "A county as large as Jackson County doesn't have one, so this has been a real positive for us."

The airport has 32 single hangars, 14 twin hangars and one shade port, which has room for 14 aircraft.

County officials hope to attract charter and air cargo flights when the runway at the Charles Wheeler Airport closes this summer for repairs.

The county-operated airport opened in 1996 and is used regularly by about 75 companies and individuals. Annual takeoffs and landings average more than 20,000, officials said.

"When the commissioners initially approved building an airport, they had a 40-year vision for economic development for that area and it has been very successful," Panethiere said.