McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport’s influence extends far beyond its boundaries, proving success is in the air.
The airport’s direct economic contribution is estimated at $250 million per year. In addition, McKellar-Sipes serves as a gateway for businesses, investing and creating jobs in Madison County. Scheduled airline service, charter flights and private aircraft based at the airport provide convenience for business and leisure travelers.
McKellar-Sipes supports activities that contribute to the national defense, enhance public health and safety, support the agriculture industry and provide opportunities for the public to experience aviation firsthand.
“McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport impacts everyone in Jackson and Madison County,â€ says Steve Smith, executive director of the airport. “Citizens benefit in many ways, from protecting farmers’ crops to law enforcement to helping businesses increase efficiency.”
The airport makes significant contributions to public safety. The Madison County Sheriff’s Department located operations within a mile of the airport, and the Madison County Fire Department’s administrative offices and Station No. 17, Madison County Emergency Management Agency and Madison County Information Technology Department are located on the airport’s campus.
Enhancing Public Safety
The Tennessee Army National Guard operates at the airport, and the Jackson Police Department’s Air Wing is located at McKellar-Sipes. Plus, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Highway Patrol are constructing state-of-the-art facilities at the airport, Smith says.
On a daily basis, air ambulances stop at the airport. They include fixed-wing airplanes and emergency helicopters. The Civil Air Patrol meets twice a month at McKellar-Sipes.
Airport Industrial Park, located near McKellar-Sipes, has 103 acres of land available.
“The growth of Airport Industrial Park shows the trend of new businesses wanting to be close to the airport,â€ Smith says.
The airport hosts public events, such as the Firefighters Freedom Festival. That event, held every Fourth of July by the Madison County Fire Department, draws about 15,000 participants. The Fallen Aviator Car Show and Fly-In is held every September by Tennessee Army National Guard Unit No. 3.
The Ninety Nines, a women’s pilot organization, provides free educational flights to young people at McKellar-Sipes. Flight training is available at the airport.
Commercial airline service provided by Air Choice One extends the airport’s impact, Smith says.
“Daily commercial flights to St. Louis and Atlanta connect the Jackson community to the world,â€ he says.
Convenient Airline Travel
Air Choice One provides a total of 26 round-trip flights each week to Atlanta and St. Louis, says Shane Storz, the company’s president and CEO.
“The response to our air service has been excellent. When we first started in June 2015, the airport was only carrying a few passengers a month, and now, we carry over 900 passengers a month. We are projected to carry over 11,000 passengers for 2019,â€ he says.
The airport, which meets the same FAA safety and security requirements as much larger facilities, has a 6,000- foot primary runway with a Category 1 instrument landing system plus a 3,500-foot secondary runway. The control tower is operated from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily under the FAA Contract Tower Program using FAA-certified controllers.
Air Choice One was launched by Multi-Aero, Inc., based in St. Louis, as a scheduled airline providing service to hard-to-reach communities. Its service is based on providing increased flexibility of air travel at reduced fares. Airline service provides fuel for the engine of economic development for smaller communities.
“Commercial air service is important to the economic growth and quality of life. And if air service is not available, it sometimes stunts economic growth as well, (resulting in) companies relocating and moving out of town,â€ Storz says. “Also, it’s a non-starter for a business with any