Feb. 14--ANACONDA -- Bowman Field in Anaconda could be in line for another in a series of Federal Aviation Administration grants, if the county can come up with matching funds to secure the airport improvement money.
At Tuesday's meeting, airport manager Jim Novak will ask commissioners to approve an expenditure of $2,500 to provide matching funds for an FAA grant worth around $100,000.
According to the grant application, the money is needed for maintenance of paved surfaces including crack sealing and re-striping.
Novak says it's too good of a deal to pass up, considering the present budget problems and the need for upkeep.
"Where else could they get $100,000 for about $2,500?" he said. "If they had to do it on their own, they could not afford it." Last year, when the county could not make the match for a $60,000 FAA grant, the airport board members had to solicit donations from the community, he said.
The grant came through, and the money was used to install an automated weather observation system in November that cost around $55,000, Novak said.
With the new system, citizens as well as pilots in the air can access important details about wind, temperatures, visibility and other information around the clock. Aircraft can tune their radios to 122.8 MHz and key four times for an instant broadcast.
The information is available to non-pilots, too. Anyone may call 563-8275 for automated, up-to-date information on wind direction and speed, barometric pressure, relative humidity, dew point and other items.
This year, preserving the pavement tops the list of concerns.
The airport includes a main runway that's 6,000 feet long, a 2,400-foot taxi runway and a 4,400-foot crosswinds runway.
"That's a little bit better than average for a community of 10,000," he said.
The last major paving project was done in 1993. The surfaces were sealed to slow deterioration in 2001, and it's time to repeat the process to extend the life of the pavement before water penetrates and caused potholes.
Novak said upkeep of the airport is essential.
"It's very important to the Anaconda community," he said. "The Anaconda people don't realize how much it's used." Bowman Field sees frequent use by aircraft from agencies like the Forest Service, state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the business community. It's handy for medical air services, and provided a landing space for aircraft from regional hospitals when a carbon monoxide incident at the Anaconda Job Corps sent students away for special emergency treatments. Guests at Fairmont Resort and the Old Works Golf Course frequently fly in, as do real estate agents and their clients.
"A lot of real estate deals have been brokered by out-of-town people," he said. "And consequently, most of them fly."