August 12, 2009
“We’re one system, a family that works well together,” says General Aviation Manager Tim Whitman of the three Oklahoma City-area airports that serve all aviation needs in this, the largest city in Oklahoma. Wiley Post Airport (PWA), a small community airport and the city’s main airport for general aviation (GA), is located between Will Rogers World Airport (OKC), the region’s commercial airline hub, and Clarence C. Page Airport (RCE), which also serves general aviation. Manager of both GA airports, Whitman says the city promotes their business opportunities face-to-face and online at www.wileypostairport.com.
Covering roughly 1,100 acres, PWA is snuggled into the northern business district, seven miles northwest of downtown. Approximately 456 airplanes, including 82 twins and 73 jets, are based here. The tower is open from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and in the terminal, the Annie Okie Runway Cafe offers visitors a clear view of the daily flights into and out of the airport, mostly from transient operators. “More than 50 PWA airport businesses employ more than 1,000 people earning a substantial $52 million a year,” Whitman says, “while direct expenditures from airport activities contribute more than $100 million a year to the surrounding economy.”
To meet demand for business hangars, Wiley Post is developing 40 acres on the airport’s north end, adding utilities, roads and taxiways. After extending Taxiway Bravo to its northern limit, the airport is now working on Charlie. Federal funding is providing an updated $600,000 runway lighting system. “We’re 90 percent through the design of the new ILS 35R,” Whitman says. By early 2010, precision approaches will serve both ends of the 7,199-foot main runway. State taxes on aircraft sales and the airport trust are funding the $2 million project.
Built in 1942 to support the Army’s Will Rogers Field, PWA is the second Wiley Post Airport. The original, built in the 1920s, succumbed to developers in the 1950s. Since 1956, the five-member Oklahoma City Airport Trust has managed and operated the area’s three airports, says Mark Kranenburg, the trust’s general manager and city aviation director. Airport revenues go to the trust’s enterprise fund, which is separate from the city’s general fund.
Wiley Post recently formed an airport safety committee that includes members from the two full-service FBOs, charter operators, flight schools, FAA and tower manager. The group meets monthly to discuss safety, traffic, noise and security issues, Whitman says.
In an ongoing effort to enhance safety and promote pilot proficiency, PWA annually challenges GA pilots to accurately predict fuel burn and checkpoint ETAs in August’s Okie Derby. Home to the Oklahoma Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, World War II aircraft highlight the annual free open house and service-member tribute, Armed Forces Day. “All of our tenants are business partners,” Whitman says. “Working closely with them has made Wiley Post Airport the state’s premier business aviation tool.”