“This is a good way to recognize the importance of aviation in our community and educate the public about what these general aviation airports do for the communities,” said Elton Cultice, manager of Grimes Field Municipal Airport in Urbana. “Travel, tourism, and businesses are associated with (the airport.) There is economic benefit from the people who work here, the cafe, people at the museums and construction people. The airport is a benefit to the community in every way you can think of.”
Cultice noted one particular area of importance.
“A lot of new pilots are being trained by small, general aviation airports like our flight school here,” he said. “Just about every small airport has a flight school and that is where a lot of the up and coming airline pilots are being trained these days. A lot of people don’t understand what the airports are doing and that is why in a lot of places, airports are getting closed down.”
Selena Shilad, executive director of the Alliance for Aviation Across America, spoke on the importance of small airports like Grimes Field.
“In Ohio, general aviation and our network of airports support the livelihood of businesses, towns, cities, and farms across the state and country,” said Shilad. “We thank Governor DeWine for his leadership in recognizing the importance of general aviation and look forward to working with him and other leaders to support these aircraft and our network of airports.”
Shilad stressed the important impact Grimes Field has on Champaign County.
“While many are aware of the value of commercial aviation, they may not be aware of the value of general aviation and local airports,” said Shilad. “In the Champaign County area, Grimes Field has an economic impact of over $2 million in terms of payroll as well as $9 million in economic impact. They support a lot of critical services and economic activity that people may be unaware of, such as flight training, medical care, patient and organ transport, firefighting and many others.”
Shilad said economic impact for general aviation was affected by the pandemic between 2019 and 2020. However, she said it is starting to return to the pre-pandemic level. For more information on the impact of general aviation in the community, visit www.aviationacrossamerica.org/economic-impact/.
With potential growth in economic impact, Cultice hopes to expand Grimes Field, allowing for more business traffic access.
“One of the things we want to address is making this a more easily accessible option for businesses,” he said. “We have a lot of businesses around here and a lot of them need to be connected to a local airport where they can come and go.”
Formed in 2007, the Alliance for Aviation Across America is a non-profit, non-partisan coalition of over 7,000 individuals representing businesses, agricultural groups, FBO’s, small airports, elected officials and charitable organizations. They lead business and aviation groups that support the interests of the general aviation community across various public policy issues.
Roughly $295,000 will be awarded to Springfield’s Beckley Municipal Airport and $159,000 to Urbana’s Grimes Field Municipal Airport annually over the next five years through an airport infrastructure grant.
These airport infrastructure grant funds can be used toward projects to improve and replace runways, taxiways, and airport-owned towers. The bill also expands this program to include terminal improvement and multimodal connections to the airport, according to a press release from Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-OH) office.
“Upgrading and modernizing our airports will create tens of thousands of jobs and play a key role in attracting business and growing Ohio’s economy, both in the near term and for many years to come,” said Portman in a statement. “Now that air travel is beginning to ramp up as we work to get through this pandemic, it is the right time to make significant investments in our airports to ensure they will be able to meet the increasing demands of services.”
For large and medium primary hub airports, the grant covers 75% of eligible costs, according to the release. For small primary, reliever, and general aviation airports, the grant covers 90-95% of the costs.
Seth Timmerman, manager of the Springfield-Beckley Airport, said that the infrastructure funding will likely benefit the airport through paving and electrical rehabilitation.
Grimes Field Airport manager Elton Cultice said that the Federal Aviation Administration will release details about how the funds can specifically be spent at the airport in the coming weeks, but he hopes to see runway work and building improvements be made through the funding.
The local grant awards are among the $254 million in airport infrastructure funding awarded to 100 airports across the state.
Springfield-Beckley is also expected to be allotted $4.7 million though national defense funding to create the microgrid, according to a press release from the office of Sen. Sherrod Brown.
Microgrids are local power generators – creating energy likely through solar or wind – that can connect to a main power grid, but also can operate self-sufficiently, said Gerald Brown, who teaches electrical engineering at Cedarville University.
Although microgrids are not common throughout the state, they could be appealing in the instance of a security emergency or a natural disaster, the professor said.
“If the main power grid goes down, everything goes down,” he said. “The appeal of a microgrid is that if you want or need to have power to run a facility or building… with the proper planning, you can run independently of the power grid. They’d be self-sustaining.”
The microgrid project is a part of $58 million of funding dedicated to military construction projects through the National Defense Authorization Act, which now is off to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
Timmerman said that more information about the microgrid project will be released in the coming months after airport leaders complete other development projects currently underway at the airpark.
Enjoy a festive afternoon at the Aviation Museum with hot chocolate, cookies, and crafts for kids. There will also be a special visit from Mr. and Mrs. Clause!
The Champaign Aviation Museum is located at 1652 North Main Street, Urbana.
Walter will relate the development and actions of the heaviest navy bombers of WWII, the PB4Y-2 Privateers, throughout the Pacific Theater. Included will be a brief history of the first Privateers, the ships and crews who fought in the Revolutionary, 1812, and Civil Wars. His presentation will contain personal stories and photos relayed to him by one Privateer pilot, his father, Lt. jg Joe Walter, who was awarded the DFC and three Air Medals. In addition, 42-year navy veteran, Edwin Corwin, will be on hand to share his experiences flying in PB4Y-2s and later P-3 Orions during the Cuban Missile crisis.
View the The Grimes Flying Lab
Built in 1952 by Grimes Manufacturing and used by engineers to test and evaluate aircraft exterior lighting systems during flight. This is a must see!
In addition to food trucks, the Airport Cafe will be open serving a full menu and the famous "Airport Pie"! The balloons will launch at 6:00 pm followed by a pizza or wings eating contest. On Saturday, September 11th at 5:30 pm, a memorial recognition of the 9/11 tragic events will be held. Closing the evening will be the balloon glow at approximately 8:00 - 8:30 pm; an awesome display of light and color! Bring your lawn chair and enjoy an evening of family fun.
All balloon activities are subject to wind conditions at the time of launch and glow.
Mad River Air Assists
“Perhaps the most common comment from students was how small everything seemed from the air. I know it gave them an appreciation for just how big the world is and that’s essential to developing an appreciation for the town they live in,” Weller said.
Aviation is woven into the history of Ohio and Champaign County. The youth center plans to offer more plane ride and aviation opportunities this fall as part of its program lineup.
Levi LaForge, one of the students at UYC who participated in the rides, said, “Being honest, it (the UYC) is one of the best places for youth to have opportunities. The free plane rides especially are one of the many examples of why I love coming here.”
About Urbana Youth Center
UYC believes that the future of our children impacts our community’s opportunities and success for decades to come. With open hearts and open minds, this community can rally our resources to not only lift kids up but set them on a trajectory for accomplishing amazing things. The youth center serves students in grades six through twelve who attend Urbana City Schools or live in the district.
The event was sponsored by Dream Flights, an organization dedicated to honoring military veterans and seniors with no-cost flights. This was part of Operation September, a program to give back to senior veterans.
It’s almost as beneficial for the Dream Flights employees as for their clients.
“It spins the clock backwards and reconnects them with their youth,” said Marcus Smith, a Dream Flight pilot and crew chief. “It’s such a rewarding thing to be able to do. They love it and gives them some excitement in their lives they’ve been missing.”
Families and friends were invited for the big day.
Grimes Manufacturing is now part of Honeywell International’s Aerospace Division. Mr. Grimes passed away in 1975. In an effort to celebrate Grimes and his legacy, Mike Major, visual artist and sculptor, published a book on Grimes at Main Graphics, his design shop in downtown Urbana. With the help of writer Nancy Patzer, who grew up in Urbana and has written historical non-fiction throughout her writing career, the book is called “A Light in the Sky: A Biography of Warren G. Grimes and the History of Aviation Lighting.”
Patzer, a 1983 graduate of Urbana High School, currently resides in Columbus, Ohio. She has written a number of articles on Ohio history. She owns a marketing communications company, providing consulting services to the residential housing and healthcare industries. Patzer also dabbles in fiction and has twice received the Thurber Treat Award for Humorous Fiction by the Thurber House Literary Center.
1950 National Plowing Contest
On Sunday, Aug. 15 at 2 p.m. at the Champaign County Historical Museum at 809 East Lawn Avenue, there will be a program on the 1950 National Plowing Contest that was held in Champaign County. There will be several presenters talking about their memories of this event. The presenters will include: Howard Brust discussing the history of this event, members of the Dean Wilson family relating how the publicity from their father’s success affected their family, Sue Evans Berkemeier covering the conservation project connected with the event, and finally, Sarah Finch will introduce Shirley “Payne” Prosser who was crowned the Queen of the Furrow of Champaign County in 1950.
Information from Champaign County Historical Society.
To reserve a ride, click here. Rides will depart at 1:00 and 5:30 pm. Rides are weather dependent and due to COVID restrictions, the number of seats is limited. The airport ramp will be open from 9-6 with the plane arriving about 9:30 am. Entrance to the ramp is free (donations accepted ) and a tour of the plane is only $10.00. Don’t miss this chance to experience a piece of history!