Wood County Airport in East Texas was named General Aviation Airport of the Year at the annual Texas Aviation Conference sponsored by Texas Dept. of Transportation, The Texas Airports Council and the Texas Aviation Association. The event honors airports and airport managers who have used TxDOT and Federal Aviation Administration grants to improve facilities and services.

Wood County Airport Board accepts the General Aviation Airport of the Year award from TxDOT.
Wood County Airport Board accepts the General Aviation Airport of the Year award from TxDOT.

John Wisdom, Wood County Airport board chairman who co-manages the airport as a volunteer with Wayne Collins accepted the award from TxDOT’s Aviation Division Director David Fulton.

“We had been submitted for most improved airport of the year, we thought,” Wisdom tells Texas Construction. “Our local TxDOT rep had other ideas.” He says the smaller airport has just one runway, which services mainly private traffic, small business traffic, smaller jet aircraft and turboprop aircraft.

Wisdom says the board of directors operates the airport, while most airport boards serve in an advisory function. Because the airport is a combination of two cities and the county, it has a unique setup, he adds.

“What set us apart is that we are all volunteer-operated,” Wisdom says. “We have done on a $36,000 annual budget what gets one a $200,000 a year budget for the same caliber of airport. We’ve created quite an asset for the county without a lot of (financial) investment on our part.”

Airport leaders work to progressively by building ahead of development.

“We installed infrastructure for the next phase each time we built,” he says

In 2007, a parallel taxiway was added to the north two-thirds of the runway with access and pad sites for large aircraft hangars. In 2008, the airport expanded and renovated the terminal and added infrastructure to supply all hangar sites with electric, water, sewer, phone and high-speed Internet.

The airport doesn’t contract for the building of hangers, but leases to private owners on a long-term basis. The owner builds its own hangar to the airport’s specifications.

“Due to the standardized construction, people aren’t upset because someone has built a sub-grade structure,” Wisdom says.

“We’ve made a nice facility with a lot of services, a nice terminal, a board room and a comfortable resting area for pilots. Our fuel is open 24 hours and everything is automated,” he says.

The award is reinforcement. “It puts us on the radar,” he says. “For about half the cost, you can get the same building as at Alliance.”