Stennis Leaders Hope To Lure Military With Improvements

The military hopes to give Stennis International Airport an economic boost. Planned infrastructure improvements at the airport could open the doors to training exercises for Keesler Air Force Base's 403rd Reserve Unit.

"We've had a number of C-130 in and out of here from all over the country all over the world," Hal Walters said.

Walters is Executive Director of the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission, the organization that oversees Stennis International Airport.

C-130's are the kind of aviation traffic airport leaders like to see. Each upgrade at Stennis International makes the job of attracting large planes easier.

"Since we had the instrument landing system commissioned back in March, the traffic has doubled. And we anticipate it to perhaps triple once the air traffic control tower is in place."

Mississippi's congressional delegation is working to secure the estimated $2-3 million it will take to build the control tower.

"This will be probably the last big piece of the puzzle, at least for this phase. We've had a study done and have identified two or three sites here on the airport that would be appropriate with one site in mind we think will be optimal."

That site is in a field in the Southwest corner of the runway. Not too far from the airport's newest tenant.

"We've got a new fixed base operator on the field which, of course, is like a service station and full maintenance for aircrafts. So we're proud to have Mardi Air on the field with us. They are new, so that gives us two fixed bases along with Phillips aviation. We're proud to have both of them. "

And proud to see Stennis International on the way of reaching its full potential.

Airport leaders hope to hear whether they got the federal aviation grant within a month.

by Al Showers