As the Port of Hood River plans major multi-phased airport improvements, the agency received word it would receive over $1.3 million in grant funding from this year’s ConnectOregon VI grant cycle for an “Aviation Technology & Emergency Response Center” at the Ken Jernstedt Airfield. Those initial funds, combined with FAA grants, Port funding and private investment, is expected to spur over $7 million in development at Hood River’s airport over the next few years.
Improvements to the airports north ramp have been part of its Airport Master Plan for over 20 years, calling for the relocation of the Fixed Base Operator (FBO) building and additional tie-downs from the south side of the airstrip to the north side. The ConnectOregon VI grant, which comes from the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) funding pool, will cover nearly 60% of the project’s first phase. That work includes site preparation, environmental assessments, installation of water and sewer utilities, grading, paving, and installation of new fuel tanks. Site improvements will also allow for the construction of five new commercial hangars to support the local aviation industry.
The second phase of improvements at the Ken Jernstedt Airfield are to be funded by TacAero, a private investor and subsidiary of Hood Technology of Hood River. TacAero was assigned the FBO lease last May in an agreement with Classic Wings Aero Services and the Port. Phase Two plans include construction of a new, modern FBO facility, an FAA Certified Part 145 maintenance facility, and an FAA Certified Part 141 training academy facility complete with new training aircraft and state-of-the-art full motion simulators.
Expected completion of the first two project phases is in the next two years. Phase Three will complete the upgrades to the north ramp by the end of 2019, 90% of which would be funded by FAA grants. Earlier this month, the Port also accepted a grant for $237,510 for south taxiway improvements design, with the Port’s contribution to the project coming in at $23,751.
The community will benefit from these airport projects in many ways, such as increased safety with traffic flow improvements and the relocation of the fuel tanks; enhanced facilities for testing and development of UAV technologies and new applications; improved airport facilities for all pilots and visitors, meeting new demand created by the growth in aviation tourism; and an enhanced location for firefighting and emergency response personnel with temporary crew quarters.
“These are exciting plans for the Ken Jernstedt Airfield, and we are grateful for the OTC funding that will kick off a long series of improvements,” relayed Port Executive Director Michael McElwee. “The new FBO building will create a new ‘Front Door’ for the airport community, and the other upgrades should support more business opportunities in the area, plus enhance pilot training and emergency preparedness.”
For more information, contact the Port of Hood River at (541) 386-1645 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.