June 28, 2023

NBAA was on hand with state and local officials June 28 to celebrate the opening a new airport in Sparta, KY – the 58th general aviation airport in the state.

Located only a few miles from the Kentucky Speedway, the new facility is the Gallatin County Regional Airport (8GK). The state provided $18 million to support the facility, filling an “aviation gap” between Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH, according to state officials.

“This is an amazing milestone for Gallatin County and Northern Kentucky, more than 20 years in the making. Today, we showed everyone that when we work together as Team Kentucky, we get big things done,” said Gov. Andy Beshear, who spoke at the official opening. “This airport is going to support our booming economy, promote tourism in this region and provide a new site for emergency responders.”

The airport features a 5,000-foot by 75-foot concrete runway with a full parallel taxiway and apron. The facility, which will be funded using revenue from jet fuel sales, hangar rental fees and fuel excise tax returns, among other federal, local and state project funds, is expected to host approximately 13,000 takeoffs annually.

“By building this magnificent airport you are connecting surrounding communities, enhancing the competitiveness of local businesses, providing greater access to emergency healthcare to families, creating jobs and strengthening the local economy,” NBAA Director, Airports and Ground Infrastructure Alex Gertsen said at the airport’s official opening.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, general aviation supports 11,000 jobs in Kentucky, resulting in $599 million in labor income and contributes over $2 billion to the state’s total economic output.

“You have opened a portal to medical care and access to life saving relief, should a natural disaster strike,” Gertsen told the audience. “You have created opportunities for next generation of pilots to take to the skies, for aircraft technicians to maintain and innovate our flying machines and for so many other aviation related disciplines to flourish.”

The airport is managed by the Gallatin County Regional Airport Board of Directors. “I’m beyond excited to see planes finally land in Gallatin County,” said county Judge/Executive Ryan Morris. “The sky is the limit regarding the opportunities this opens up for our region.

In addition to speaking at the airport’s opening, Gertsen took the opportunity to fly elected officials and supporters over the new airfield on an aerial tour.

“There is no better way to fully appreciate what this airfield will mean to their region than getting airborne off of the runway they worked so hard to build and seeing the grandeur of 8GK from the air,” he said.