FREDERICK, OK (KSWO) - Nearly two years after heavy rains tore it apart, the runway at the Frederick Municipal Airport is now repaired and back open for business.
United States Senator Jim Inhofe was in Frederick Friday for the runway's grand re-opening. He spoke of the airport's importance to the Frederick community and to our military in the area while on a tour of several small airports across the state.
The reopening is a big deal for the airmen stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls. They use the runway for important touch and go training but with it in repair, they were re-routed to the airport in Duncan for the last year. Now, with the brand-new runway fully operational, they can return to Frederick for their training.
"We want to be good Americans, want to support our national defense efforts, even in the small part by providing training facilities for the Air Force and for the NATO allies that use our runway," said Frederick City Manager Robert Johnston.
Johnston said on top of that, having the runway closed was also bad for the Frederick economy.
"We're one of the few smaller non-commercial airports in Oklahoma, and perhaps other states, that is actually financially self-sufficient," Johnston said. "We basically get by on fuel sales and agricultural income. So, we do a good job there but with the runway closed our fuel sales have dropped off financially."
At today's ribbon-cutting event, Senator Inhofe also took time to talk about a piece of legislation he recently introduced to Congress called the Flight Act. If it passes, he said it would significantly help smaller airports.
Currently, every airport in the state of Oklahoma gets money each year that they can either spend or roll-over for a period of four years. If when that four years is up they haven't spent the money, it goes into a bigger pot that any airport in the country can get. That includes the bigger airports like Dallas – Fort Worth International Airport and Will Rogers World Airport. If the Flight Act passes, that would change. It would make it to where they have five years to spend that money and if they don't spend it, only small general the small general aviation airports would have access to the leftover money."
"That's not important to the very large communities because they are the ones who were always in the driver's seat before. It is to what I refer to as the general aviation airports," Inhofe said.
The proposed legislation is still very early in the process, but Johnston said he thinks it would be great for Frederick.
"Sometimes you get bids that are favorable, less than you expected and then you have a little excess money you have to use or lose really quick," Johnston said. "Adding that fifth year, especially for non-primary entitlements, it would be very beneficial just because sometimes good things happen that have bad outcomes. You don't spend as much money because you didn't need as much money and then you lose it."
That legislation is still a long way from being passed, but Senator Inhofe said it has the support of both the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the Experimental Aircraft Association, which are the two biggest general aviation corporations in the country.