Airport’s master plan under way

Published 12:05 am Sunday, October 21, 2018

ADAMS COUNTY — Attracting new generations to aviation is one goal of the Natchez-Adams County Airport Commission as commissioners set their sights on a master plan for the coming year, commissioners said during a Thursday meeting.

Commission chairman Gary Holloway said one of the commission hopes to integrate an aviation school at the Natchez-Adams County Airport.

“We’ll call some of the well-known aviation schools and see if there’s any interest in opening up in South Mississippi and see if they can help in the cost,” Holloway said.

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Clint Pomeroy, commission consultant, said the nation is experiencing a shortage of pilots, partly because Vietnam veterans are reaching the FAA’s required retirement age of 65.

Another reason for the shortage, he said, is that advanced technology creates an ease of flying that makes it less enticing to recent generations.

“Aviation is not as exciting a career as it once was,” Pomeroy said.

Richard Nelson, director of aviation, said a flight school is one of the potential developments that could create new jobs and benefit other businesses.

Nelson said the master plan would take eight to 12 months to complete, but should create a 20-year forecast.

Holloway said the master plan is a huge step in meeting regulations and acquiring FAA grants. For instance, Holloway said the airport made technical advancements this year by updating its lighting system.

Master plan consultant George Groh, managing principal of Kutchins & Groh Consulting Associates for Airports, said the master plan began with an aerial overview to view topography and runway clearance. Groh said addressing technical issues and economic development would set the ground for concept development.

“We’ll narrow it down to three alternatives and look at cost, and then bring it down to reality. Then come up with a recommended development plan,” Groh said. “From there we’ll do a financial plan on how it can be funded, what sources are out there.”