Located at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport (KAMA) in Amarillo, TX, TAC Air — AMA is in summer shape and showing off extensive upgrades to the FBO. The formerly 4,500 sq. ft. terminal and ground services facility has expanded into an 8,500 sq. ft. executive terminal and business center. And the FBO’s hangar grew to 102,700 sq. ft. of hangar space, 17,300 sq. ft. of office and 4,875 sq. ft. of shop space.
Tad Perryman, VP of Marketing, TAC - The Arnold Companies, said TAC Air has been at KAMA since 1993 and is excited for this major upgrade to the FBO and refresh to the whole campus. Perryman explained the upgrades have been driven, in part, to meet the growing market in Amarillo.
“We've taken care of the facility, but it clearly has been outgrown and advanced from the time it was originally built, as the city has been going through a lot of changes from an economic development standpoint, one of their areas of focus was the airport,” said Perryman. “We chose to come in and do a complete rebuild of the existing FBO structure. And with that, we grazed the land putting temporary buildings up to the side and then we started a complete rebuild of the executive terminal.”
Initial conversations and development on the upgrades began in 2019, with work then beginning the next year. Construction finished earlier in the year and the first passengers traveled through the renovated FBO in early August.
Perryman said the rebuild gave them the opportunity to really go “state-of-the-art” with what they incorporated into the FBO.
“We feature technology from an entertainment stand point, from a capability to charge your phone, charge your computer, have some workstations for those people that are traveling and spending time in the terminal, and actually for our employees and the crew as well,” Perryman said, highlighting some of the technologic upgrades. “Back in the line room, we've got new technology to run all of our systems and looks at all of the maps of incoming and outgoing flights and manage our internal communications from the line to the front counter as well.”
Some state-of-the-art features extended past the mere technological and into safety. Amarillo is located in the middle of the US’s Tornado Alley and the extreme weather that can befall the FBO was factored into the design.
“We designed and built into the center of the facility an extreme weather safe room. It's a 12' by 12' reinforced concrete cinder block room, all four walls, floor, and ceiling are built to withstand high winds and tornadoes. So if there is extreme weather, we have the ability to move quite a few people into a safe place. That's one of the key designs going on around the whole area as new facilities are being built. We want to take care of our customers and our crew, and we're providing a safe room in the center of the facility,” detailed Jeremy Vandyke, General Manager of TAC Air - AMA.
One of the questions people usually have when they come into TAC Air — AMA is the possibility of extreme weather and where they can store their aircraft in the event of some.
“We have a lot of a hangar space available for those flying through, because if it is inclement weather, if it is hailing, you want to have this option available to you. We have that available at the facility and we've actually redone the whole campus, so we've reskinned, repainted, remodeled. I like to call it refresh and regreen, the hangar facilities and made sure those are all up to par right along with the new executive terminal, the whole campus actually has a new look and feel to it,” Vandyke said.
TAC Air — AMA is also a high traffic area for military aircraft, so they’ve included a dedicated military situation room in the FBO.
“It actually is set up so visiting military can do training scenarios in the room, one-on-one between the two pilots that are in each aircraft. Or if they have a larger group and want to be able to do some additional training in the room, we can hold pilots from 12 aircraft, that'd be 24 pilots, through a training situation, separate from the regular pilots' lounge or regular meeting conference room available from a business standpoint. We really are catering to the military traffic that comes in. We know they like this airport in this part of the country, and we want to make sure they know they are very welcome to visit for fueling or a training stop,” said Vandyke.
He added that during the design phase, they asked military personnel passing through the FBO what would help them the most. One was to have space where crews could sit down and have a conversation, specifically between trainers and trainees. And two, was to have a location where they could store their gear and other items.
"It has an extra open locker storage area for military pilots to store their gear, their flight suits, their helmets," Vandyke said. “When they come in, they're getting in or out of flight suits, carrying helmets, gear and flight books with them, and having a place to put all these items and know it's properly taken care of is important.”
Constructing the New
What TAC Air — AMA has done is more than mere upgrades or facelifts, but a complete redo of the entire FBO and a rethinking of what a space like it should offer and be. Comparing the old TAC Air — AMA to the new, Perryman said the prior facility had everything it needed when it was built, but it was time for a new facility.
“The Amarillo TAC Air facility was very consolidated. Space-wise, we had all of the room required at the time,” he said. “What we've done is we've expanded. We really are providing more space for people, more opportunities to be able to relax or spend time if they have to, on the ground there, in a relaxed atmosphere.”
Perryman continued that some areas that were smaller have been enlarged and areas that before may have been more simple now pop. There are now specific areas, such as those for military personnel and general aviation operators, which are divided and identified.
“There's some separation for those folks to be able to do what they need to do when they're in the facility,” Perryman said.
To accomplish this, the old FBO building was torn down to the ground. To keep operations moving during the construction, temporary facilities were brought in.
“They're set up next door to where the old facility was and where the new facility is. We repositioned everything to go through those temporary buildings, a temporary line room, set next to temporary facilities of the executive terminal, where we receive people. And we've been running operations out of there for a year. It's worked great. People have been very kind and understanding it is a temporary facility, but it actually has worked very well out there for us to be able to take the building all the way to the ground and start over,” said Vandyke.
The design of the new TAC Air — AMA facility borrowed design ideas from other TAC Air locations. Chiefly, the suspension of an aircraft from the facility’s ceiling. The aircraft at TAC Air locations hold significance to the region’s location. For example, at TAC Air — RDU in Raleigh, NC, a Wright Flyer hangs in the facility and at TAC Air — DAL in Dallas, TX, a 1:5 scale model 727 of the Braniff Airways, Dallas Cowboys' aircraft that was first logoed for the NFL team hangs in the main lobby.
“In Amarillo, we really wanted to be specific to that airfield and what it was historically known for. It was one of the first MRO stations for the B-17 bomber and the facility and whole airport was designed around that aircraft,” Perryman said.
Perryman added that the Amarillo Airport runway’s length was tailored to accommodate the B-17 and there’s current construction going into the runway to keep it fully updated.
“I think we chose the B-17 as the featured aircraft because of the heritage there at English Field and the Amarillo International Airport. And so we will have a 1:5th scale B-17G bomber hanging from the ceiling inside the facility. It's going to follow a paint scheme, similar to the famous B-17, the Memphis Belle, making it exciting for both civilian and military pilots and travelers coming through to the facility,” he continued.