EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a series of articles (The first article was published June 11, 2006) showcasing the Ada Municipal Airport and its impact on Ada and surrounding communities. The local airport will host the third annual Ada Air Expo and Ray Stout Memorial Warbird Fly-in Saturday, June 17. The air expo is presented by local Experimental Aircraft Association 1005 and other supporting sponsors. A hamburger cookout will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, giving visitors to the airport an opportunity to meet pilots of aircraft as they arrive for Saturday’s activities. Gates open at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Admission for adults is a $5 button. Children 10 and under are admitted free.

 



 

ADA – “Businesses don’t come calling in a Greyhound bus. Business leaders now show up in jet aircraft.”

That was the conclusion of Ada Airport manager Terry Hall in a recent interview as Hall assessed the importance of the airport to Ada. “Without the airport, businesses could not grow the way they do.”

Hall has a picture in his office showing the dedication of possibly Ada’s first airport on July 12, 1929, although it was a grass field at the time and was located south of town.

Hall says the present airport was built in World War II (approximately 1943) as a Navy Outlying Field for Clinton, Okla., but was never fully used to its full potential during the war.

The city of Ada took it over about 1946. The airport had three runways, approximately 5,000 by 150 feet. Over the years the basic layout remained the same.

Since then, one runway has been closed, one has been extended and another shortened, along with many improvements at the airport.

 During the 1950s, Ada was one of the stops on Central Airlines’ route from Kansas City to Fort Worth. Central Airlines was based in Fort Worth at the time and flew a DC-3 airplane, which carried approximately 21 passengers.

Companies located at the airport provide a variety of services.

General Aviation Modifications, Inc., owned by Tim Roehl and George Braly, does after-market work on certified aircraft. GAMI’s primary product is the Gamijector, a fuel injector for piston aircraft engines. Factory fuel injectors are replaced with GAMI injectors, which provide improved fuel-to-air ratios.

GAMI’s research and development and engineering support the other sister companies onsite, also owned by Braly and Roehl. These are Tornado Alley Turbo, Inc.; T-34 Spar Corp.; and the Advanced Pilot Seminar Training Class, which is conducted every other month at their facility. GAMI and Tornado Alley were featured in a previous article.

“These companies have a tremendous commercial future,” Hall said.

Ada Aircraft Painting, Inc., owned by Dewey and Greg Gandy since 1999, has been located at the airport since the early 1960s. The Gandys purchased the business in May 1999 from Red and Vera Brand, when Red retired. It had been a family business since 1962. (A separate story covers the painting company in more detail).

“Because of the size of our airport, aircraft owners from all over the country come in here to have their aircraft painted,” Hall said. “Ada Aircraft Painting is definitely a commercial asset to the airport.

“In addition to two major corporate flight departments who hangar their aircraft here, we also have Performance Aircraft Services, Inc., which sells aircraft fuel. The company has a contract with the city to provide fuel and maintenance services.”

Hall discussed major improvements in the airport infrastructure.

“In the last few years, approach lights have been installed on the north end, making it safer for pilots at night and during inclement weather,” Hall said.

“We recently completed a $1.2 million runway overlay project, preserving the existing runway and making it smoother and much safer. We have a city-owned navigational facility called a VOR and an Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS), which gives weather information to pilots. With this system they can get weather conditions anywhere in the nation.

“We have also spent $300,000 federal dollars for a security fence and two security gates, which are real assets to the safety and security of the airport.”

Corporate-size jets can land at the Ada Airport and business leaders and other dignitaries from around the country often fly into Ada. Among those are former president Jimmy Carter and former Soviet leader Gorbachev. Nationally known sports figures and entertainers also arrive in Ada via the airport, as do state and national political figures.

“It is good to know dignitaries and VIPs can fly in and fly out,” Hall said.

Ray Quiett is chairman of the Ada Airport Commission. Don Childers is vice chairman. Other members are Bill Bailey, Rodney Lowry and Frank Crabtree Sr.

The Ada Aviation Association and Experimental Aircraft Association 1005 is a support group for the community. Many of the members own their own aircraft and volunteer their help with aviation-related activities and projects.

Hall says approximately 40 direct jobs and 100 indirect jobs are a result of the airport.

“There is no way to assess the total value of the airport to Ada and the surrounding communities, but it effects much more than just transportation, and is a definite asset to the area,” Hall said.

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