The growth experienced by Navasota and Grimes County isn’t limited to rooftops and road vehicles. The Navasota Municipal Airport has experienced a significant increase in air traffic, construction of personal hangars and has increased interest in flying through a variety of programs for people of all ages.
Airport Advisory Board member Michael Dearing, the owner of Spinner Aviation, Inc., the airport’s fixed based operator, provided the Navasota city council with an annual report at its Dec. 12 Regular Meeting.
Fuel sales up
Dearing said, “The growth that everybody has worked to support over the last several years at the airport is really starting to transform the place from just a simple place to land into a real community asset.”
According to Dearing, in 2022 there were 77 airplanes based at the airport, six are twin-engine and seven are either turbo props or jets, and “at least three people there currently are building their own airplanes.”
Dearing reported that fuel sales volume increased 15% over 2021 and tripled since 2017. Fifty-six percent of fuel sales is attributed to jet fuel.
The AWOS (Automated Weather Observation System) is nearly operational. The concrete pad has been poured, the fence erected and electric service is currently being run to the location. The AWOS allows pilots to know what to expect when arriving or departing and provides information as it relates to wind, cloud height, visibility, temperature, dewpoint, atmospheric pressure and lighting.
Dearing said that while locals use the Navasota Municipal Airport to conduct business in other parts of the country, a lot of commerce is coming to Navasota. He reported a lot of shoppers, charter upgraders, construction contractors, attorneys, bankers and “people coming for weddings and family get-togethers and visits.”
Navasota is also ideally situated to serve the Hempstead area and is often the airport of choice over Hooks Airport in Spring.
According to Dearing, the Spinner Flying Club has nine members who share one airplane and divide the cost of operating the airplane.
He said, “It’s been a very good accessible way for people in the community to get into the air. Spinner Aviation is also renting aircraft and offering flight instruction so people in the community can come to the airport with no prior training or experience and take some lessons or take a full course on learning how to fly.”
Dearing was pleased to announce they’ve been able to hire local youth on occasion to perform technical work, odd jobs and washing airplanes.
He said, “It’s been a great experience for those kids that are able to do it and it’s not a bad way of spending money either.”
Dearing said that pilots participating in the Young Eagles Club donate their time and aircraft to take local kids flying and expose them to aviation.
He said, “This year over a dozen kids were taken on Young Eagle flights.”
According to Dearing, the airport has donated to the Navasota High School (NHS) robotics team, to the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), and pilots at the airport serve as volunteer mentors for NHS’s Tango Flight program in which students build an airplane and learn engineering skills.
Helping those in need are the pilots who donate their own aircraft and time to Angel Flight, a nonprofit organization which transports medical patients in need to and from their place of treatment. Locally, they flew 45,000 plus miles in 2022.
According to Dearing, the CAP will hold its winter encampment at Camp Allen and the Navasota Municipal Airport the last week of December, bringing 10 airplanes and 50 cadets.
He said, “If the weather is good, they’re hoping to have those airplanes running almost continuously. Those cadets will learn communication skills, search and rescue skills and the basics of airmanship as they fly those airplanes.”
Dearing recapped 2022 saying, “The airport growth aided in facilitating additional commerce, volunteer work and recreation, and we’re looking forward to what we can do in 2023.”