Earlier this year, the Blair Airport Authority made its No. 1 priority known — extending the runway at the Blair Municipal Airport.
The airport authority wants to extend the runway to 5,500 feet. It's currently 4,200 feet long and 100 feet wide. The extension would allow more jet aircraft to land and take off from the airport.
In March, Tim Hauder with SkyWerx, the fixed-based operator at the airport, presented letters from aircraft owners and pilots who regularly use the airport in support of the extension. Most fly turbo prop or jet aircraft.
The letters will be used for justification for the extension to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Hauder said the letters explain the challenges that pilots of those types of aircraft face when taking off from Blair. Though jets already take off from Blair, many are forced to take off with less than a full load of people or fuel because of the runway length. That's an issue that gets more challenging in bad weather.
The airport has also lost customers to other area airports, including Eppley Airfield, due to the runway length.
Last month, the airport authority took the first step to move forward in the process for the extension by approving a proposal from Olsson Engineering on a master contract for completing an environmental assessment and the first work order for aviation traffic forecasting.
Interest in the Blair airport has certainly grown in recent years, particularly as those other airports like Eppley, Millard and Council Bluffs have run out of space to house more planes.
In 2019, the Omaha Police Department's Air Support Unit and its fleet of helicopters moved into a hangar at the airport.
Several hangars have been constructed in the last couple of years. Another hangar is currently under construction and two more are planned just south of it.
As the airport continues to grow, it could become a source of economic development for Blair and Washington County. Companies are already seeing the airport as an asset due to the accessibility to state Highway 133 and its close proximity to Omaha.
The extension of the runway will only be another positive for both the airport and the surrounding areas.