Earlier this month the Kansas City Aviation Department recognized the completion of a $70 million refurbishment program at Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport, also known as MKC. A dedication event included Bill Dunn of Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association, Mayor Mark Funkhouser, Mayor Pro tem Bill Skaggs and Aviation Director Mark VanLoh. The fly-in breakfast event featured an impersonator of historic African-American aviator Bessie Coleman. Former Mayor Charles B. Wheeler was also on hand.
The MKC refurbishment program, begun in 2005, includes a $28 million project to raze and resurface both airport runways and add runway safety materials, a $20 million hangar project, $17 million for runway safety projects and construction of a $1 million general aviation terminal.
The hangar project removed 40 dilapidated tee hangars and replaced them with 96 new units, including 12 box hangars with radiant floor heating. Included are 20 acres of support pavement, an ?avgas? self-fueling station and an aircraft wash structure. The general aviation terminal provides amenities for pilot flight planning, showers, office and lounging. This new complex replaces a major eyesore witnessed by executives entering Kansas City and replaces it with an attractive facility with added aircraft storage capacity and services.
General aviation is very important to business in U.S. and Kansas City, and Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport is a major force and economic generator for the region. In a 2005 Missouri Department of Transportation study annual economic benefit from Wheeler Airport was $44,548,500 with direct and indirect employment of 572 yielding payroll of over $12 million.
Downtown Airport was dedicated as ?Kansas City Municipal Airport? by Charles Lindbergh on August 17, 1927. The airport flourished during the early days of commercial flight serving many airlines and as the headquarters for Trans World Airlines. By the 1960s, the Municipal Airport could no longer handle the larger commercial planes and increased jet and passenger traffic. Plans for a new airport, which became Kansas City International Airport (KCI), were developed and KCI opened in 1972. MKC became a thriving general and business aviation facility. MKC?s name was changed to Kansas City Downtown Airport in October 1977 and rededicated as Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport on the airport?s 75th anniversary in August 2002.
MKC offers aviators a 24-hour control tower, Category I Instrument Landing System, 24-hour fixed base operator (FBO), full aircraft maintenance, hangar facilities, air cargo facilities, aircraft sales, leasing and charters, flight training and car rentals. For more information visit www.flymkc.com.
The Kansas City Airport System is an Enterprise Fund Department of the City of Kansas City, Mo., and is supported wholly by airport user charges. No general tax fund revenues are used for the administration, promotion, operation, or maintenance of the airports in the system.