Airplane enthusiasts are scheduled to meet tonight to discuss the current and future needs of the Lawrence Municipal Airport.
Bob Newton, chairman of the Aviation Advisory Board, said he expected several people to attend the meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the city commission room at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts. The board has hired an aviation consulting firm, Muller, Sirhall and Associates Inc., to update the 20-year master plan for the airport.
"The city has a grant to update the airport's master plan," he said. "It has been 12 years since the plan was updated. Basically, we're doing an assessment of the aviation needs of the community and what our future demands will be."
Newton said demographic and land use data would be used to determine improvements to the airport, which is on the northeast edge of town on U.S. Highway 24-40.
HE SPECULATED that hangar space and the need for an instrument landing system would be highlighted during the meeting. Federal financing is available for the system, which would allow planes to land at the Lawrence airport when the weather is bad.
He also has looked into a supplemental weather reporting station for the airport. He said the station might be able to use Kansas University meteorology students as observers.
The station is one requirement needed for certification if the airport ever was used for the KU basketball team.
"I started looking into the basketball team using the Lawrence airport," Newton said. "It's kind of my own little project. But after doing some research, I'm finding that it's not very likely to happen. We need to have a weather observation station and emergency rescue and firefighting capabilities.
"YOU HAVE TO be a certified airport if you're going to serve a plane with more than 30 seats, and the basketball team's plane has more than 30 seats. We've never needed to be a certified airport, but it would be a matter of just filling out the paperwork."
Although Newton said he would like the team to use the airport, its plane may be too big for the runway.
Another issue that needs to be ironed out is where development will occur.
"During the past five to 10 years, the center of activity has moved," Newton said. "So we need to determine where future growth of the airport will be."
Lloyd Hetrick, manager of air services, said traffic at the airport had increased gradually during the past year. Although there is not an official reporting system at the airport, Hetrick said as many as 20 planes have used the airport in a day.
Hetrick, who will attend the meeting, said he would like to see an instrument landing system, more hangar space, improvements to the fuel farm and more taxiways.
The master plan is scheduled to assess the city's aviation needs through 2010.