Area residents are encouraged to chart a course Saturday morning for the Ottawa Municipal Airport’s open house.
The open house and “fly-in” 7 a.m. to noon Saturday will feature airplanes, vintage cars and other displays for public viewing along with a free pancake breakfast at the airport, 2178 Montana Road, about three miles southeast of Ottawa.
“The event is to raise community awareness about the airport and the important role it can play in the community’s economic development,” Jack Miller, chairman of the airport advisory board and a pilot, said. “Some people still don’t realize we have an airport, so we wanted to have this half-day event to let them know more about it.”
The morning-long event — including the pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., catered by Louisburg-based Chris Cakes — is free to the public, Miller said.
Airplanes, police and fire equipment and vintage cars from the local Over the Road Gang car club will be on display, Miller said.
“We also are hoping to have some antique tractors from Power of the Past on display,” Miller said. “This is the first time we’re trying this open house, and we are planning to do some other events in the future.”
At 10 a.m., Chad Caylor, a professional pilot and member of the airport advisory board, will provide a presentation for pilots on “non-towered air operations,” according to an airport news release.
While that presentation is occurring, community leaders will talk with the non-pilot members of the audience about the advantages the airport provides to Ottawa, the news release said.
Richard Nienstedt, Ottawa city manager, will serve as emcee, and Sara Caylor, Ottawa mayor, also is scheduled to speak.
Miller credited Nienstedt for the important role he has played in pushing for improvements at the airport and promoting the airport in the community.
John Coen, Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer, and Jeff Seymour, Franklin County Development Council executive director, also have emphasized the economic development advantages an airport can provide to a community and surrounding area, Miller said.
The city annexed about 54 acres of land at 2040 Montana Road, on the southern boundary of the airport, in fall 2012 to allow for future expansion. In August 2012, city commissioners approved a Federal Aviation Administration grant of $181,575 to put toward the $201,750 purchase price of the land.
The acreage would make expansion of the airport’s runway possible at some future point, which would allow the airport to accommodate larger aircraft and help solidify the city’s economic development portfolio, Nienstedt said in an earlier interview.
The city took steps in summer 2012 to shore up the facility by reconstructing the airport’s existing runway. About $2.1 million of the $2.2 million project also was funded with FAA dollars.
“I believe our mayor and city commissioners are pro aviation and understand the economic benefits this airport can provide,” Miller said. “We’ve talked about possibly trying to put together a major air show for next year, though that is very tentative at this point, as well as some other activities at the airport to raise community awareness.”
The open house Saturday will provide a “family friendly way” to learn more about the airport and the business and recreational activity potential at the site, event organizers said.
“We want to encourage everyone to attend Saturday morning,” Miller said.