COOLIDGE — With cooler weather hundreds of residents flocked to the Coolidge Airport Saturday morning to watch planes fly into the airport.
Every year from October to April the Lion club puts on a pancake breakfast on the first Saturday of the month at the Coolidge Municipal Airport to watch planes fly in and out.
The Lions Club works with high school groups to raise funding for their programs in which hundreds of people showed up Saturday for this event and to look at the aircraft that fly in, have breakfast and share their passions for aviation.
The airport, though, is not a huge moneymaker for the city.
“The airport does not produce enough revenue to cover our costs,” said Coolidge City Manager Rick Miller.
The city currently subsidizes the airport out of the general fund because it does not receive sufficient revenue to cover the cost of operations.
Miller said people come from all over the world to take advantage of what the small airport has to offer.
Big projects and all the parachuting being done at the airport results in visitors eating at local restaurants and staying at nearby hotels, so while the airport does not cover costs directly, it does when taking everything into account, Miller said.
The new Airport Master Plan update will include a review and recommendation for new airport user fees and lease rates. An operation is an aircraft touchdown and take off from the runway.
“I think it might also include airport approaches even if they don’t land on the runway,” Miller said.
The historic Coolidge Airport was a former Army airfield in the early 1940’s. A few historic buildings remain on the airport, including the large wooden hangar that is currently occupied by Safford Aviation.
Skyflight Services is the fixed-base operator at the airport through a contract with the city. They sublease the two historic buildings at the airport and have built a number of additional hangars that are also being leased.
Complete Parachute Solutions operates a domestic and allied military skydiving training program, and the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office has a presence in a hangar and houses their helicopters at the airport as well.
Terry Glass owns the large industrial warehouse buildings and leases the land from the city. He rents this large warehouse space for aircraft storage and other business activities.
City Airport Manager James Myers, who was out of town last week, has obtained federal and state grant funding to make several runway, taxiway and lighting improvements over the last nine years.
The city is currently having its Airport Master Plan updated through Kimley Horn. They are also the city’s on-call engineers.
Miller said the city is working with the San Carlos Irrigation Project to upgrade the power at the airport to support more industrial and aviation related activity.
The city has two fuel tanks at the airport offering 100 Low Lead and Jet A Fuel. The city previously contracted the fueling operation out to Skyflight Services, and they are responsible for the fueling operations. The city receives 10 cents per gallon pumped, which is one of the few sources of revenue the city receives from the airport operations.
Other revenue is from land leases and grant funding. The city wants to take over the fueling operations and receive funding from aircraft tie downs on the large apron.