Improvements are Coming to Perry Lefors Field Airport

Posted

The Perry Lefors Field Airport has major improvements in store. Paul Loyd, the Chairman of the Gray County Airport Advisory Board, gave an in depth explanation of all of the upgrades and maintenance that has been happening at the airport. Loyd was born and raised in Amarillo and has now lived in Pampa for 45 years. Though he is now enjoying retirement, Loyd has had an extensive 50 year career as a professional Pilot, as well as being on the Airport Advisory Board for over 20 years.

The Gray County Airport Advisory Board is a volunteer-based group compiled of seven members. Although there is not a mandatory requirement of having a history in Aviation, all the members on the board share an interest in Aviation or the airport.

One of the notable projects that has happened at the Perry Lefors Field Airport is the replacement of the World War II era rotating beacon. Loyd described the function of the rotating beacon and why it needed to be replaced after many years.

“The airport’s rotating beacon is a light. People can see it from 40 to 50 miles away. It serves to visually identify and locate airports at night,” Loyd explained. “The rotating beacon became very expensive to maintain and operate. Under a Lighting Upgrade Project going on at the airport right now, we are replacing the rotating beacon with one that is a lot easier to maintain and less expensive to operate.”

The World War II era rotating beacon was taking down last month. Since it is no longer needed for its intended purpose, the rotating beacon is now surplus. In a recent meeting, the Gray County Commissioners Court voted on approving to have the rotating beacon donated to Pampa’s Freedom Museum USA. Loyd offered additional insight on this decision.

“Since the Perry Lefors Field Airport and the Freedom Museum are both county owned, the Gray County Commissioners Court has jurisdiction on the decision,” Loyd said. “In addition to the rotating beacon being from World War II, the airport was a satellite base for military training during that time. It’s appropriate how this all worked out.”

Loyd regularly attends the County Court meetings. In this particular instance, Loyd mentioned the vote to donate the old rotating beacon was a formality.

“It’s a requirement that the County Commissioners vote on anything that is considered surplus,” Loyd said. “It is called a donation but in reality, it’s moving one county owned entity to another.”

Loyd acknowledged that there was never any worry that the rotating beacon would not be donated. In his conversation with the County Judge, Chris Porter, there were three possible options for what was to become of the rotating beacon:

• Leave it on display at the airport and adhere a plaque to it, to which it would detail the history of the rotating beacon.

• Take down the rotating beacon and place it in the airport terminal.

• Donate the rotating beacon to a museum.

The third option was deemed the most ideal outcome.

“We have the military museum here in Pampa. It’s the perfect place for it,” Loyd said.

The Freedom Museum USA has since received the airport rotating beacon and is currently stored in a secure location. Though there is one component of the beacon, the top portion, that the Museum still needs to acquire, it may be some time before the community can see everything displayed. On account of the size of the rotating beacon, the Freedom Museum USA will need to display it outside. As well, the Museum plans to connect power to it and add a light bulb so that way people can see the rotating beacon functioning.

Loyd went on to describe the new rotating beacon that the airport will be using.

“The new beacon is considerably different. It’s much smaller, it uses modern bulbs, and it is much less expensive to operate,” Loyd said. “It is a tip down tower. If there is a problem with the bulb, we can tip it down to fix the bulb and put the tower back up.”

What’s more, the Perry Lefors Field Airport is in the process of a lighting upgrade. The runway lights and edge lighting system on the Cross Wind Runway 5/23 are all being replaced. The lighting project has been in the works for seven years. It has taken several months of continuous work to get every replacement and upgrade completed. Loyd notes that entire lighting project should be completed by the middle of January. This project has been going on in conjunction with the rotating beacon replacement. The airport will also have a separate project in the future: installation of a new visual approach light system at each end of the main runway, Runway 17/35.

Loyd mentions the source of funding for all of the projects the Perry Lefors Airports has in store.

“Most of the things that we do at the airport are funded 90/10 by federal money,” Loyd said. “It only costs the County ten cents on the dollar to do things like upgrade the runway light system. Otherwise, it would be naive to expect the County to fund, let alone afford, these projects.”

Loyd recalled that the cost for the rotating beacon project, which includes taking it down and replacing it with a new, modernized beacon, was around $ 750,000.

“For the County to fund that on their own would be impossible,” Loyd said.

Loyd explains that funding for the airport is an ongoing situation. The airport receives funding from several different sources all over the state of Texas. Though a considerable amount of money comes from the Federal Government, it is funneled through the state.

“We have a something called the Routine Airport Maintenance Program,” Loyd said. “This particular program funds 50/50 cost for every bit of routine maintenance that is done at the airport. We get everything maintenance wise for 50 cents on the dollar. All of our other, typically major, projects are 90/10 funded.”

Loyd highlights a unique element of the airport, something that the community may or may not be aware of.

“The Perry Lefors Field Airport is designated as a Regional Airport,” Loyd said. “All of the airports in the panhandle, aside from the Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport, are Local Airports. We receive a larger amount of funding because of our regional status.”

Loyd highly encourages people to visit the airport and learn about the history of Aviation.

“It is a public airport. People are more than welcome to come and see what goes on,” Loyd said. “They can see our facility and maybe see the airplanes that come and go.”

As well, Loyd mentions that he is happily open to the opportunity of schools having a field trip to the Perry Lefors Field Airport.

“I would always be glad to give a tour to a group of school children and share the knowledge of Aviation,” Loyd said. “By seeing everything in person, young children will learn and maybe foster an appreciation of Aviation.”

Loyd acknowledges his staunch dedication to the airport and emphasizes the importance of it.

“It can be said that, a  town that doesn’t have an airport is a dying town,” Loyd said. “There is no way a town will grow without an airport.”

For more information about the Perry Lefors Field Airport, call (806) 665-1881.

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here