Plans are underway for the expansion of the Rusk County Airport as the first of a three-part construction effort could begin soon.
“There is no formal time-line, but we’ve got things in motion,” said airport manager Ron Franks. “Our vision is to become a vibrant, well-managed and growing airport that is an asset to the people of Rusk County and surrounding area.”
Franks and others believe that by simply lengthening the current runway from 4,000 feet to 5,000 feet could make the difference in who and how the airport could be used.
“We believe we can become an incubator for business and industry for Henderson and Rusk County,” he said.
Local and regional airports like Rusk County are controlled by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
While the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) collects taxes, those funds are redistributed through the state.
In order to prove to TxDOT that such an expansion is needed, Franks has to come up with 500 contacts who say they will use the airport in a year. The 500 mark relates to landings and take-offs.
Franks believes a bigger runway leads to other corporate and private traffic that passes through the area.
“People can pass through the airport and we can provide them with transportation to Henderson for dining and lodging and they can fly back out the next day,” he said.
Henderson is strategically located, being just about 30 minutes from Tyler, Longview and Nacogdoches.
The strategic plan includes an increase in hangar space and attracting airport businesses and industry to the Rusk County area.
Franks does not foresee any commercial use of the airport, but did mention NetJet, which is similar to Uber car services.
RCA can also be used a fueling stop for certain size plans, however some of the traffic has landing and takeoff weight limitations.
The multi-year project has three phases.
The first would be to lengthen the taxiway.
Then comes moving 300,000 cubic yards of fill dirt.
Them comes the grading, paving and lights for the approach.
Franks estimates it would take a minimum of 60 resident aircraft at the airport to become self-sustaining.
Hangar space and aviation fuel are just two of the components that would help make Rusk County Airport successful.
“When the gas royalty revenue is gone, the only revenue the airport will have is the income generated by hangar rent, land lease and fuel sales,” he said.
Franks would also like to see the airport to become a hub of community activities like Fly-Ins and airshows that create age-targeted event; host community-wide events and meetings; attract business meetings and conferences.