Activity at the Monett Municipal Airport from June through September leveled off from the sharp upward trend that started in early 2010.
The busiest four months of the year held the trend through August but dropped off in September. For the first nine months of the year, total flights and landings at the Monett airport during weekday business hours are down by 5 percent.
Business activity continues to rise at the airport. Flights coming into Monett by identified companies for business purposes totaled 444 for the period, up 20 percent from a year ago and a new record, topping the 426 record from 2005 when the count was started. The tally is two and a half times higher than the low point for the same months in 2009.
Flights by Jack Henry and Associates and EFCO Corporation, a Pella company, the two Monett industries that have planes based at the airport, were at their lowest since the last quarter of 2010. The 286 count was down 7 percent from a year ago, though the average number of flights for the last four months was about six more a month than during the beginning of the year.
The total number of identified business flights from June through September was 730, up 8 percent from a year ago. It was the highest number in five years though down 119 from the 2005 record.
Business flights for the year jumped up 12 percent from the 2010 pace, marking two years of steady increases.
Planes hangared in Monett logged a record number of take-offs and landings for the four-month period. The total of 456 was up 4 percent from a year ago. Activity has increased each year from the 2007 low point to where the current number is triple the low number.
The biggest variable comes from flights originating outside Monett coming in for unidentified purposes, presumably not for business. These flights held steady with last year until September, when the count dropped by 111 in one month.
These unidentified flights totaled 1,104 for the four- month period, down 6 percent from the September drop. It's the lowest number for the period in three years.
Airport Superintendent Howard Frazier said unscheduled flights are the hardest to predict. He attributed some of the drop to the number of enrollees at area flight schools, expecially coming from nearby Aurora. When flying, students may make six or seven take-offs or landings in a day. Frazier said the unscheduled flights do not reflect on economic activity in the community like other types of flights.
The total number of take-offs and landings from June through September totaled 2,197, down 4 percent from a year ago, again entirely attributable to the September drop in unidentified non-business flights.
The sum was still the second highest for the period on record, up 28 percent from 2005 when business flights were significantly higher. In 2007, when flights for the period were at their lowest, the count was over 800 flights or 59 percent under the current count.
For 2011, the total count of 4,292 is down 5 percent from a year ago, after the 2010 tally jumped up 28 percent from the settling of the economic downturn in 2009.
Frazier said business flights have continued of late at a regular pace. On Tuesday, he had a jet from Justin Boot fly in and another from a company taking passengers to a nearby hunting lodge.
Recently an out-of-town jet used by Pioneer Seed landed, which illustrated the need for upgrading the airport along the lines of the new master plan. The jet, a new Challenger 300, the kind of jet used by small commercial companies, picked up local crop producer Kip Cullers to share his production secrets at seminars in other parts of the country.
"The Challenger 300 has a tail as tall as our apron lighting," Frazier said. "It wouldn't fit in any of our hangars. I'd like to eventually get a bigger community hanger to put something like that in if they needed to stay here. Handling planes like that is why we're looking ahead in the master plan, and why we need a bigger runway."
Next week Frazier expects to start installing the new automated weather observation station (AWOS), replacing the old unit for which parts are no longer available. At the same time, the connection between the AWOS and the terminal building will switch from a telephone line to a UHF radio, which should reduce the maintenance and deter lightning strikes.
Frazier hopes approval for the new radio frequency will come through the Federal Communications Commission so the installation can be completed by winter.