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Friday, May 6, 2016

Flights at airport follow year-long trend

Friday, January 6, 2012

One of the sources of fewer flights at the Monett Municipal Airport identified by Airport Superintendent Howard Frazier last year was a decrease in students taking lessons. On Thursday, instructor Rick Armstrong provided lessons to a seasoned local pilot in the Piper Arrow, at right, at the Monett Airport. Frazier said the Cherokee 140, at left, is a good plane for offering basic lessons. The Piper, with its controllable pitch props and retractable landing gear, represents a step up for a flight student. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff] [Order this photo]
The year-long trend of flights at the Monett Municipal Airport continued through the last quarter of 2011. Identified business flights were up sharply while totals for other flights declined. The flight tally for the year dropped but remained the second highest total since the city started keeping records in 2005.

Totals represent counts of take-offs and landings during business hours on weekdays by airport staff. Night-time returns and weekend flights not tallied would elevate the totals.

Flights by planes from Jack Henry and Associates and EFCO, a Pella company, which both have planes hangared at the airport, totaled 261 for the last quarter of 2011. The total represented the largest number of flights in four years but 23 percent under the peak set in 2007.

The quarterly tally made up for fewer flights earlier in the year. Jack Henry and EFCO logged 902 flights for the year, one fewer than was recorded in 2010.

Other companies flying into Monett for business grew significantly throughout the year. For the final quarter, other business flights totaled 223, up 72 percent from a year ago, more than in any year other than the 419 logged in 2005.

For the year, identifiable business flights from other companies totaled 1,002, up 40 percent from 2010. Business flights by all parties totaled 1,904, up 18 percent over a year ago.

The number of flights by non-industry planes hangared at the Monett Airport picked up at mid-year only to drop off sharply at year's end. In the final quarter of 2011, hangared planes flew 257 flights, the second highest total on record but down 33 percent from a year ago.

For 2011, hangared planes made 1,176 flights, a drop of 9 percent from 2010.

Other flights in and out of the airport, either to purchase fuel, for pleasure or private planes engaged in business but not identified as such were down all year. In the final quarter, 619 remaining flights were tallied, down 22 percent from the record set a year ago.

For 2011, this catch-all category recorded 2,665 flights, down 15 percent from 2010.

The total for all daytime weekday flights in and out of Monett's airport in 2011 totaled 5,652, the second best on record. The amount was 6 percent under last year's record of 6,035, which jumped up 36 percent from the six-year low point of 2009 in the middle of the economic downturn.

"We're trying to pick up as much as we can," said Howard Frazier, airport superintendent. "We take care of business as it comes in. It's a tough economy. Fuel prices have come down. They're going back up and that has a big effect on everyone."

Frazier said all the rental space in the T-hangars at the airport is full. One vacancy recently developed, and he has a plane owner ready to secure it.

"We can fill vacancies pretty fast. None are open very long," Frazier said.

Recently, Frazier installed the new automated weather observation station (AWOS) at the airport. Visitors to the terminal building will see a new screen above the desk showing weather conditions.

Frazier said the new system provides previously unavailable information, such as local weather conditions, including light rain, the presence of lighting within 30 miles, the speed of barometric pressure changes and identification for any major changes that have taken place in the last 15 minutes.

Monett is one of 28 recording stations connected to the National Weather Service in Missouri that posts information on-line. Two years ago, when the Monett airport was added to the system, Monett's call letters were changed from "Mike 58" to "Hotel Fox Julia," the long name for call letters HFJ.

Local reports are available by telephone at 476-2613. Frazier said firefighters can benefit by checking wind conditions with a phone call.

A color code is also available on the AWOS screen, showing the intensity of lighting, from a light green, showing five strikes per minute, to red, showing dangerous conditions.

"The old system never had that," Frazier said. "It's a nice upgrade."

Frazier was optimistic about airport activity in 2012. He said Monett has been fortunate to have its industrial base generating airport traffic and sustaining jobs in the area.

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