South Grand Lake Regional Airport Fundraiser Highlights Economic Impact of Aviation to Community

KETCHUM, OK – Last Saturday night, under a glowing string of lights looped in the canopy of an airport hangar owned by Derrick and Linda Schmidt, the economic impact of aviation in the State of Oklahoma was aloft at the South Grand Lake Regional Airport (SGLRA). 

During the past eighteen months, the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission (OAC) conducted a study to address the annual economic impact of Aviation and Aerospace in Oklahoma, including the 109 airports in the Oklahoma Airport System. As the board of directors at SGLRA fully understand, their little airport has a big impact on the local economy.

“During the study, we found that the total impact of the SGLRA’s annual economic activity was $2.3 million with the General Aviation visitor spending impact totaling $690,000,” said Sandra Shelton, the communications and legislative affairs liaison for the agency.  Shelton traveled from Oklahoma City to attend the event and to deliver the good news of the economic impact study as well as information about the recent legislative initiative creating a state Aviation license plate which becomes available November 1st, 2017.

“I had not previously visited SGLRA, so when I drove through the airport’s entrance, and entered the venue, I was astounded by the effort and dedication to the airport that was so proudly displayed through the exhaustive work of the very invested board, pilots, and community,” said Shelton.

“SGLRA has the best of aviation stories to tell. Only a decade ago, this little airport was a turf runway with a handful of based aircraft.  With the support of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), OAC, and most importantly, dedicated airport patrons, we were able to turn this airport into a paved, jet-capable runway with over twenty (20) based aircraft. Not only do they have an outstanding runway, they also have the beauty, recreational attractions, scenery, and business acumen to compete for aviation activity.  With all of the things they have accumulated, their most prized asset is the airport patrons devoted hearts and hard-working hands,” said Vic Bird, director of OAC. 

Bird and the airport division of the agency have worked closely with the airport board to facilitate development goals for the airport.  “We look for great things to happen at that airport,” Bird concluded.

PHOTO CAPTION: South Grand Lake Regional Airport board members from left to right: Derrick Schmidt, Gary Watkins, Donna Belt, David Wolfard, Brent Howard, Jim Brown, Art Box, Bob Sullivan.  Not pictured is Layne Enloe.