August 1, 2011

A West Florida airport with plans to expand its already-solid appeal to business aviation was recently honored as the state’s 2011 Community Airport of the Year. Hernando County Airport (BKV) in Brooksville offers expansive facilities and quick access to the Tampa Bay area.

The annual award is open to all public-use, community airports in the Sunshine State. According to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), nominations may come from “any airport, airport authority, local or federal government official, consultant, contractor, industry partner, or FDOT staff.”

BKV Property Coordinator Kimberly Poppke says Hernando County Airport offers the attractiveness of a community airfield, with the convenience of a suburban facility. It is 37 nautical miles due north of Tampa, and driving there takes 40 minutes on the Sun Coast Parkway. The airport offers a pair of long concrete runways to accommodate any kind of aircraft.

“It’s a lot more convenient [for operators] to base their business aircraft at a regional airport,” she adds, “and it’s easier for their passengers as well.”

Hernando County Airport meets all the necessary criteria for an award-winning airport, which include safe and secure facilities; proper maintenance and approach standards for all active runways; clean and professional appearance of airport facilities, and a cooperative airport staff; correct field signage; a well-developed Airport Master Plan; and active participation by airport management in broadening the airport’s appeal to the local flying community.

In addition to two existing facilities, at 6,000 and 9,000 square feet apiece, Hernando County Airport is now taking reservations for its new aviation park set to open within 24 months. “Everything is designed, we just need to proceed with the building it,” Poppke says. “There’s going to be a ramp area/parking area with business frontage, airside parking, and hangar facilities offering 10,000 to 15,000 square feet of space.”

With the expansion comes a planned contract air traffic control tower for BKV. A formal groundbreaking was held in early July, with shovels expected in the ground “any day now,” Poppke notes, ahead of the tower’s planned late-2012 operational date.

This year marks the third time since 1993 that Hernando County Airport has been recognized with the community award. Similar recognition is offered through several other Florida Department of Transportation awards, including one for the state’s commercial airports – with Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport (PNS) taking this year’s honors – and one for Airport Project of the Year. The state also honors its Aviation Professional of the Year, and offers a Distinguished Airport Service Award honoring a person who has contributed to the state’s rich aviation heritage.