Airport had extra traffic for flood viewing

Published 12:03 am Thursday, June 23, 2011

NATCHEZ — Whether it was official surveys, politician visits or sightseeing tours, the Natchez-Adams County Airport was happy to fuel up its visitors during May’s Mississippi River flood.

The airport sold $16,576 worth of fuel in May, when the river reached its peak, which is a 176 percent increase from May 2010 fuel sales.

The airport’s administrative assistant Jennifer Essary said the majority of the bump in aviation traffic came from the Corps of Engineers, US. Coast Guard, Adams County Sheriff’s Office, news crews, politician visits and sightseers, all who were observing the river and flooded areas from the sky.

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“We were very busy,” Essary said.

The airport fueled up more small planes and helicopters last month than usual, Essary said, and a Gulfstream V and C-130 landed in Natchez.

Natchez-Adams Airport Manager Clint Pomeroy said the boost in fuel sales helped the airport’s annual fuel sales exceed last year’s sales at this time of the year by $6,260.

“Everybody was up trying to take a look from the (air),” he said.

The airport also housed 14 aircrafts from the Concordia Airport during much of May, Pomeroy said.

Since the Natchez-Adams Airport is an uncontrolled airfield, pilots navigated themselves, Pomeroy said.

When multiple airplanes flew, Pomeroy said pilots were careful to communicate with each other over the radio and detail their locations.

“Everything went fine,” Pomeroy said about the influx of traffic in the air.

In addition to fueling up flood watchers, the airport also had 17 aircraft from the Flying Rotarians come through Natchez in late May. The planes flew to Natchez on their first stop on a tour of the south that coincided with the Rotary International Convention in New Orleans, Pomeroy said.

“The extra bumped helped because we were low (in revenues), but now we’re doing better this year,” Pomeroy said.

Pomeroy said while he had every intention of going up for his own view of the flooding from the sky, he never got around to getting a lift during the busy month.

“I went to the bluff and looked it,” he said of the historic flood.