Construction shuts down airport, no air show this year


Submitted Photo

Workers of Howell Paving in Mattoon lay down the asphalt for the construction of Runway 11 at the Coles County Memorial Airport over the summer. The airport will close to finish construction in September.

Mackenzie Freund, City Editor

The annual air show put on by the Coles County Memorial Airport, in Mattoon, was not put on this year due to runway construction.

Andrew Fearn, airport manager, said this is the first time in about 12 years that the airshow will not be put on.

The airshow has had a turnout of around 12 thousand people coming from different states, and sometimes another country.

“We’ve had as many as seven states, and I think one other country,” Fearn said.

The airshow was put on in 2014, and after that show Fearn and Kim Carmean, the administrative assistant, decided to host the airshow every two years.

“We went to the two year format to spend twice as much as we have spent in the past,” Fearn said.

Fearn said the planning for the 2016 airshow began about five months ago and will continue until about June 2016.

Some planes will join the airshow late, but give the airport a deal to be in the show if they have time and are passing over.

Fearn said some entertainers will charge $12,000 now, but will sometimes cut their price in half if they have time between shows and have nothing else to do.

The construction on the runway had to be done because parts of the pavement had chipped off due to some of the larger planes flying in and out of the airport.

Runway 11 was worked on because of cracks in the pavement, according to Fearn.

Fearn said since the runway had to be re-constructed, the airport had to shut down almost completely.

“The only things we have been able to accept is helicopters,” Fearn said. “(Agriculture) planes have been working off the taxi-way, because they can legally do that.”

The usual planes that are stationed at the airport had to leave because of the construction, Fearn said.

Many of the planes that would use the airport were unable to since it closed for construction on July 13.

The construction of the new runway was estimated to be between $9 million and $15 million, the price came out to $5.3 million because the way the construction plans were set up.

Fearn said the concrete that was originally on the runway was 14 inches thick and was entirely broken up by machines and turned into gravel, which acted as a base for the new runway.

“It was a lot less money, and we didn’t have to fill up a landfill with all this concrete,” Fearn said.

The airport recently finished construction and re-opened for public use Wednesday morning.

Fearn expects that the five planes which left should be returning sometime Thursday morning.

The airport will close again around the 14 September, 2015 to finish the last step in the runway re-construction project, according to Fearn.


Mackenzie Freund can be reached at 581-2812