The Warren County Veterans Memorial Airport has a new aviation director and he’s excited to see how high he can make it fly.
“We’re going to work on increasing revenue and decreasing expenses and see where we can grow our market share,” said new airport manager John Baugh III. “This airport is directly in the middle of Miami and Chicago. It’s strategically located for snowbirds on their way going north and south.”
Baugh believes the amenities and personnel the airport has are great benefits and believes it’s only a matter of time before traffic and revenues increase.
“The runways are 5,000 feet by 100 feet wide. For a small airport without a control tower that’s about as good as it gets. It’s a good, modern runway. We have the newest fuel system. They’re state-of-the-art. Nobody in the Middle Tennessee area has one newer than ours.”
The new fuel tanks Baugh spoke of were installed last summer and hold 12,000 gallons of fuel each. One tank is for jet fuel and one is for 100 octane aviation fuel.
“The old tanks had aged out. They’d reached the end of their service life,” said Baugh.
Aside from the runways and the new fuel tanks, Baugh is proud of other amenities the airport offers.
“Everybody’s friendly here for one thing. That’s why I used to stop in here. I have a small plane and I used to come in and buy fuel. We have good pricing on everything.”
The airport has a crew lounge, restrooms that are open 24 hours a day, a shower, a courtesy car, and a spacious conference room.
“Most airports don’t have a conference room. Sometimes business representatives will fly in and want to meet and they’ll lose an hour driving to where they’re going to meet. We’ve got a conference room with wifi and a white board right here. They can come in and meet while they’re refueling,” Baugh said.
Baugh also thinks the fact the airport is outside of air traffic control for Chattanooga and Nashville is attractive to pilots.
“You lose 15 or 20 minutes while they’re vectoring you around and taxiing and all that. That costs a lot of money.”
Baugh says currently the airport has about 100 operations a day.
“The locals are very active and we have transient aircraft that come in. We have people who come in from all over the country for business and recreation. Helicopters from medical facilities utilize us nightly and kids from MTSU are out here every day doing touch and goes, things like that.”
Baugh commutes daily from his home in Tuckers Crossroads but expects to eventually move to Warren County. He’s impressed with the local beauty and intends to attempt to lure users of the airport into staying for the weekend rather than refueling and flying away.
“I think we can increase the people who come in and buy fuel and get them to stick around and visit. There’s a new hotel coming in and with all the rivers in this general area the fishing is great. There’s canoeing and kayaking. Cumberland Caverns. There are a lot of tourism opportunities here for people,” Baugh said.
“Traffic is going to greatly increase. That’s my goal. It’s a beautiful airport. It’s modern. It has an excellent runway. What we want to do is increase exposure at the national level.”
“I’d love come up with a package where they fly in, buy fuel, stay at a hotel for the weekend, and visit our restaurants and attractions. Entice them with the things that are unique to Warren County that you can’t get anywhere else,” said Baugh.