Kickapoo Airport to use TxDOT grant for long-time problem


WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Kickapoo Downtown Airport in Wichita Falls has the all clear to fix an issue the city says it has been dealing with for years.

On Tuesday TxDOT announced a $2.8 million grant will be awarded to the airport.

Jon Waltjen, Wichita Falls Airports Administrator, said it will be used to tackle flooding concerns by improving the airport's apron, which is like a driveway but for planes.

Waltjen and those who have set up shop at Kickapoo Downtown Airport say it is needed.

"The grant is to take care of our drainage issue and our elevations on our old apron, so we don't have any standing water," said Waltjen.

He said having the least amount of water possible is the goal. He adds puddles can put pilots at risk.

"As they're transiting or traveling their brakes can get wet, puddles of water make it harder to stop," he said.

Michael Glashan said the grant is awesome. Glashan is a maintenance technician at Cobra Kai, a business that operates out of the airport offering aircraft maintenance and flight classes.

Glashan recalls just how big of a problem the drainage can be.

"Not too long ago, you know during the big heavy rains, we've had a few planes try to float off on us because you get about 18 inches of water out here on the ramp," said Glashan.

The solution to this problem is already in the works. Waltjen said phase one of the apron improvements was done about six years ago, and right now phase two is being worked on thanks to another TxDOT grant. Phase 2 is expected to be finished by December.

Now, this new $2.8 million will go towards phase three.

Waltjen said it is important that this construction gets done in sections.

"That way we don't inconvenience our tenants that are out in their hanger," he said.

For those that are being affected the airport is moving the planes into its community hangers.

"That way it doesn't impact their business or their flying," said Waltjen.

Glashan said he appreciates the airport working with them.

"As long as they keep us open we're good," he said. "If they would have done it where they remove everything we would have been shut down for a little bit and that's never good."

The next step to complete the third and final phase is to get bids for the project. According to TxDOT that will be done by the end of this fall.

However, Kickapoo is not the only airport benefiting from state funding.

Around $2.3 million will be spent on pavement improvements at  Wilbarger County Airport. The bid for that project is expected to be wrapped up by mid-December.

Plus, about $166,667 is going to the Graham Municipal Airport. That will be used for the engineering and design for that airport's pavement and electrical upgrades. A project consultant is expected to be named soon.

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