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Business Journal editorial: A long time coming

Posted: August 8, 2014 - 2:17pm

The need for a new municipal airport in Conway was first identified in the 1975 Conway Municipal Airport Master Plan Study, which recognized that the existing Cantrell Field was adequate for most propeller aircraft but not for business jets or the larger, executive-type general aviation aircraft.

Full disclosure—we lifted that opening sentence word-for-word from a 2008 FAA environmental document. It was one of the many documents we went through as we taxied down memory lane. Forgive us for feeling nostalgic as our community prepares to open a new Cantrell Field in Lollie Bottoms. But this project has been a long time coming and it has truly taken a village of engineers, politicians, public officials, aviation professionals and many, many dedicated volunteers and neighbors.

On September 5th when planes officially land at the new airport it will be the first time many Conway residents will have ever laid eyes on the site. What will they see? A fantastic new terminal building for starters. The new terminal has first class meeting space and will make a great first impression on anyone who flies to Conway. They will see a 5,500 foot long runway that is capable of safely handling any and all of the aircraft that currently have a reason to visit Conway. They’ll see new hangars and a natural setting that’s downright peaceful.

What they won’t see is a finished airport. And that’s a good thing. Because growing communities are never finished building and improving their infrastructure. This airport is ready to open. But this airport is also prepared to grow.

The runway could be extended to 6,000 feet in the near future. There are future phases of hangar construction and room for more corporate tenants. Some of that work will very visible if you venture out to the airport in the next few months. The new location also comes with real estate available for aviation related businesses and industries that will one day create new jobs for our community.

The work that so many have put into this project finally have the new Conway airport “cleared for landing.” And the thoughtful preparations that have gone into that process have it “prepared for takeoff.”

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