November 21, 2011

The Baraboo-Wisconsin Dells Municipal Airport (DLL) is key to growth in his area of the Badger State, says Mayor Patrick Liston of the city of Baraboo, WI. The field has had only general aviation (GA) activity since the 1960s, when airline service with Douglas DC-3s ended.

“We work hard to promote development in this area, but that development won’t occur unless there’s a viable airport in the area,” said Liston. “Our airport is an absolute necessity. It’s a way to bring people into this area and encourage development.”

The long-established airport serves the Wisconsin Dells area. Last year, it lengthened its runway to 5,000 feet to accommodate a wider range of business airplanes. According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) statistics, the airport averages 93 takeoffs and landings per day, year round.

“We get a wide range of traffic, but in the past 10 years it’s shifted to more corporate-type operations,” said Bill Murphy, manager of the Baraboo-Dells Flight Center at the field. He mentioned regular visits from engineers and other workers during the construction and staffing of the $45 million Tanger Outlet Mall.

A 27,000 square foot United Parcel Service package facility with 75 employees is located in the area, in part because of the airport, according to a company spokesperson.

Advocates hope to eventually extend the runway to 6,000 feet, allowing better safety margins for larger business airplanes. In the meantime, Baraboo has enacted ordinances limiting the height of buildings or other structures near the airport. Such encroachment is a leading cause of airport closures in the U.S. About $600,000 has been set aside for planned taxiway improvements next year.

The Wisconsin state aeronautics agency in 2008 estimated the Baraboo-Wisconsin Dells Airport enables 146 jobs with $3 million in payroll, contributing a total economic impact of $9.5 million.