Sikeston airport serves as front door to city

Sikeston airport serves as front door to the city


Tucked just off Malone Avenue, by the Sikeston Recreation Complex, sits one of Sikeston’s hidden gems – the Sikeston Municipal Airport.

“It’s the front door to the city,” said Chris Hart, manager of the Sikeston Airport.

Each day aircraft comes and goes through the airport, for both business and pleasure.

Hart said the Sikeston airport averages typically 4,500 operations a year. Airport traffic is known as operations with anything that lands or takes off being classified as an operation.

“It can be small business or individuals,” Hart said. “We have guys that sell insurance, and they have their own private license. They’ll fly their plane in here, sell insurance to certain people and fly back.”

Hart added there are dentists, doctors, crop dusters and individuals that just fly into Sikeston, including politicians. But the airport is extremely important for businesses.

While officials with Carlisle Construction Materials were deciding whether to bring their business to Sikeston, one of their expectations was an airport. Other businesses, like Love’s, Allen Wire, Unilever and Plaza Tire also utilize the airport frequently.

A big draw for those flying in is Lambert’s Cafe. Hart said people will fly in with their family and go eat at Lambert’s and fly out the same day.

“(A family will) get up Saturday morning and fly to Sikeston,” Hart said. “Lambert’s takes them in the back door, so they don’t have to wait in line. They sit them, feed them and they bring them right back out here and drop them off. They’ll refuel or have us fuel them while they’re gone. On a weekend it’s nothing to average 8-10 planes a day that just come in for Lambert’s.”

Hart said there has been times in the summer when the airport is completely full on the weekend with planes flying in to eat at Lambert’s.

“We had 25 planes on Saturday and 25 planes on Sunday at one time,” Hart said. “It was crazy.”

The military often flies in with their helicopters to eat at Lambert’s as well.

“I know that’s what (most residents) associate the airport with,” Hart said. “They’ll hear the helicopters flying over.”

Another benefit of the Sikeston airport is having a fuel truck and fuel service with linemen. Tony Hurt serves as a full-time lineman and runs the day-to-day operations Monday through Friday and Karen Guebara is a part-time lineman that covers the weekends.

“Believe it or not that’s all the employees we have out here,” Hart said. “We cover this show 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. You can fly in and out of here anytime you want. If you are needing us to fuel you, you’ll have to call us out if it is after hours. But you can fly anytime you want.”

Hart said they average probably selling about 90,000 gallons of Jet A (fuel) a year and probably about 40,000 gallons of Ag gas a year. The airport is branded by Titan Fuels, something that a lot of big companies and those who fly bigger jets require.

“When you’re branded it means you’re getting good fuel,” Hart said. “There are daily tests we have to do to make sure there is no water in there or trash in it.”

The fuel tanks currently used were purchased used in the 1970s, so a new fuel farm is currently being constructed at the airport, one of the latest improvements that have been made.

In 2016 a new terminal was built, and runway and taxiway improvements have been made as well.

The multi-hangar, the only hangar remaining from when the airport was utilized by the military in 1940, has seen a lot of improvements. The hangar was insulated, and heat added along with new LED lighting and the outside of the building was repainted. New lighting was also installed at the T-hangars as well as repainting of the inside and outside.

Sikeston has 22 based aircraft at the airport and 10 total T-hangars, with two open right now. Several planes are also kept in the multi-hangar.

Improvements at the airport can be extremely costly but the City of Sikeston has been able to obtain grants from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as well as the Missouri Department of Transportation. Hart said a lot of the grants covered 90% of the costs and other grants covered 80% of the costs with the city paying the remaining costs.

Currently the City of Sikeston is working to get a new Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS).

But Hart has more things he would like to add as well, like a small commercial service that could take people from Sikeston to Memphis or Springfield, where they could get on a bigger plane.

He is also in the process of getting a flight instructor and mechanic.

“If we get that it will be a bonus to this airport,” Hart said. “Having a flight instructor and a certified aircraft mechanic on the field, that’s awesome.”

As Sikeston continues to grow, the airport is becoming more and more important.

“We’re a growing town,” Hart said. “That Carlisle thing was amazing. But we’ve got a lot of big companies and when you get some more companies like that, it will bring in more jobs, more people, and hopefully more operations for the airport.”

And when they fly into Sikeston, the first thing they see is the airport.

“It’s the front door to the city,” Hart said. “When they fly in, and have never been to the city before, they fly in, and they see a nice terminal and smiling faces.”