Falcon Field work continues to upgrade airport

Alexis Garibay | Special to Independent Newsmedia
Posted 9/28/20

In hopes of bringing a community of pilots and staff closer together, the Falcon Field Airport staff announced last week some new improvements that are in store for the facility.

During a Zoom …

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Falcon Field work continues to upgrade airport


In hopes of bringing a community of pilots and staff closer together, the Falcon Field Airport staff announced last week some new improvements that are in store for the facility.

During a Zoom conference held Wednesday, Sept. 16, Airport Projects and Operations Supervisor Brent Shiner explained in depth improvements at the Mesa airport:

  • Falcon Drive and Streetscape Improvements: Xeriscaping will take place and a new message board will be placed. They are part of a $1.9 million  fund to improve what the city considers historic districts.
  • Public Viewing Area: A revamp will be implemented to grant amenities for a user-friendly experience.
  • ATC Photo Wrap: Another photo wrap will be installed on the airport’s control tower to honor those who previously served the country. This is also part of the historic district funding.
  • Pavement maintenance: The shoulder of the North Runway (4L/22R) will have its cracks sealed in order to preserve the asphalt for further maintenance at a cost of $400,000.
  • Reconstruct the Higley Ramp: The east end of the ramp will be under construction until more funds become available for the west end. The city is spending $ 3 million on this project, with the Arizona Department of Transportation covering 90% of the first phase and the city waiting on $2.1 million from the FAA for the second phase.

 “The revenues that you generate as our customers of the airport are what is used to operate this airport,” Airport Director Corrine Nystrom, said.

With the 2021-22 budget in the works, it has been noted that funds are continuously set aside for any operation expenses as well as capital improvements. During the past 10 years, Falcon Field has received about $14 million in grants from the state of Arizona and the Federal Aviation Administration for work.

Apart from new innovations, the airport is home to 90 businesses and is continuing to grow with establishments from Leopard Aviation and Lemac Aviation. There is a reconfiguration of Impala Bobs, an auto restoration business, into a hangar development that is currently in the works.

Leopard Aviation is a small flight school expanding from Scottsdale because of increased interest in flying. Lemac Aviation, owned by Matt Layton, has expanded to its own hangar on Falcon Drive, where flight instruments will be kept. Impala Bobs, bought by George Cunningham, will have its warehouse redeveloped into hangar space as well, said Lynn Spencer, Economic Development Projects Manager.

Although COVID-19 has pushed some small businesses to the brink of survival, Falcon Field has partnered with the Mesa CARES Program allowing the businesses relief during these difficult times. The CARES program is designed to tap federal funds for businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic but have not received support through the Paycheck Protection Program or other federal efforts.

“We [Falcon Field] are diverse in our businesses, so while some did take a hit, there are others that are actually growing,” Spencer said.

In tune with the CARES Program, the airport has also partnered with Hownd, a Tempe-based company that helps connect customers to small businesses and small businesses to merchants by providing support vouchers that can be found through Hownd’s website, social media and the MyHownd mobile app.

The overall purpose of Hownd is to, “make promotional offers available to the community through our local businesses,” said Dee Anne Thomas, a company spokeswoman. Despite economic challenges brought on to small businesses housed at Falcon Field, there are many economic development projects underway.

A few of these include: construction on the Mesa Hangar Development, which will start this week, Higley and Longbow being developed into an Amazon delivery center, as well as a Boeing building, that will bring its workforce from Seattle, Spencer said.

Falcon Field strives to maintain a partnership with its pilots as well as the community, which is the sole purpose of the Fly Friendly Program; however, Shiner outlined new guidelines for those involved.  The program was designed for pilots to comply with guidelines established to maintain a safe relationship with the community surrounding Falcon Field.

There should be reduced repetitive training between 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., more specifically touch and goes. These are maneuvers performed while landing the aircraft, in which the pilot will continue down the runaway and reconfigure for takeoff, according to Pilot Mall.

Other guidelines include maintaining a 4-degree glide slope to keep pilots at a high elevation, as well as keeping tight traffic patterns between three-quarters to one mile downwind. By complying to these guidelines, pilots can reduce disruptions and high noise levels in residential areas.

“It’s very important that we be a good neighbor to all of the residences around the airport,” Shiner said.

Falcon Field continues to thrive in the midst of the pandemic, as well as continuously creating a home for its pilots and staff. 

“It’s not just a job to them; it’s a passion,” Nystrom said.

Alexis Garibay is a student at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.