Airport growth helps with economic growth

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With the improvements at the Madisonville airport, the town soon will be high on the list as the top destination for the “$100 Hamburger.”

For the non-aviator, the $100 Hamburger refers to the cost of flying to another destination to eat. Crockett commercial and private pilot Gordon Shaw said it’s because a private pilot has to have some place to go, just like if you get on a motorcycle and go.

“There has to be a draw,” he said.

For pilots, it gives them a way to get to places, and they’re always looking for places that have fuel and restaurants, said Wanda Collins, an instructor and pilot tester.

For Madisonville, the draw here is a restaurant at the Country Club, and people can fly here and play golf, even more so now that there’s fuel.

“Company people who come in here with their twin-engine planes check on their businesses, but privately, I have to have some place to go,” he said. “It's an opportunity to enjoy my passion, aviation.”

Shaw said that different websites will now say there’s fuel here, and if they get a courtesy car as is the plan, there will be more attraction for pilots.

“It’s all about the destination, and you have to have some place to go for fun,” he said. “This makes it more of a destination.”

Collins agreed, saying that If a pilot is needing to get to a town, it has to be a place that has some amenities.

“This will be good for the businesses in town that use small planes and pilots, they’ll be able to get to their businesses easier,” she said. “Once the word gets out that there’s fuel here, the other pilots they’ll start to park here.”

Madisonville Mayor Bill Parten said an improved airport will be a boost to the city.

“We’ll take what we have now and build on it, and it can be a real asset to economic development and housing,” Parten said. “I think you’ll see a lot of people with corporate planes build businesses here. It’s part of the overall growth plan for Madisonville.”

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