Minnesota Flyer - Serving Midwest Aviation Since 1960

Aircraft owner paradise = Longville Municipal Airport

 

Photo courtesy of Kurt Dahlen

North Memorial Aircare based in Brainerd captures attendee's attention at one of the annual Fly-In Breakfasts at Longville Municipal Airport Airport.

In a day and age where some rural airports struggle to keep the doors open, Longville, Minnesota, with a population of just 156, has a municipal airport that thrives.

Longville Municipal Airport was established in the 1950s by a group of pilots who owned summer homes in the area surrounded by lakes where boating, fishing, water skiing, snowmobiling, ATV use, and hiking are the recreational activities.

At that time, the airport was perceived by the city and local residents as a wealthy person's playground. Around 2005, local pilots began to meet Saturday mornings at Patrick's Restaurant for coffee and breakfast.

The idea of inviting locals and visitors to a Fly-In Breakfast to bring awareness of the actual value an airport brought to the community was discussed and developed. The first year of the event, about 250 breakfasts were served. That number has grown to about 1,100 breakfasts nowadays. The Longville Chamber of Commerce has been a major partner in making the pancake breakfast a success.

As the annual Fly-In grew, other community members became involved. Now, the local fire department, regional medical facilities, and car clubs provide interesting visuals and demonstrations for attendees.

Local resident, Christina Herheim feels fortunate in her dual role as Longville City Clerk and Municipal Airport Manager.

"I am really fortunate to work in this area," said Herheim. "The airport is a huge financial asset, really. It brings tourists of all sorts into town who contribute to local businesses. I also have a wonderful group of volunteers to work with who make it all possible."

Another factor contributing to the successful relationship between the city and the airport was formation of an all volunteer Airport Advisory Committee in 2009.

Airport Advisory Committee President and AOPA volunteer, Steve Shallbetter said education as to the value of an airport is vital to a healthy relationship with the city council, business owners, and local residents.

"The Airport Advisory Board consists of seven members," said Shallbetter. "Of those seven members, only three can be pilots. The other four are citizens or business owners in the community. With that mix on the board, nobody can ever say that it's a biased In a day and age where some rural airports struggle to keep the doors open, Longville, Minnesota, with a population of just 156, has a municipal airport that thrives.

Longville Municipal Airport was established in the 1950s by a group of pilots who owned summer homes in the area surrounded by lakes where boating, fishing, water skiing, snowmobiling, ATV use, and hiking are the recreational activities.

At that time, the airport was perceived by the city and local residents as a wealthy person's playground. Around 2005, local pilots began to meet Saturday mornings at Patrick's Restaurant for coffee and breakfast.

The idea of inviting locals and visitors to a Fly-In Breakfast to bring awareness of the actual value an airport brought to the community was discussed and developed. The first year of the event, about 250 breakfasts were served. That number has grown to about 1,100 breakfasts nowadays. The Longville Chamber of Commerce has been a major partner in making the pancake breakfast a success.

As the annual Fly-In grew, other community members became involved. Now, the local fire department, regional medical facilities, and car clubs provide interesting visuals and demonstrations for attendees.

Local resident, Christina Herheim feels fortunate in her dual role as Longville City Clerk and Municipal Airport Manager.

"I am really fortunate to work in this area," said Herheim. "The airport is a huge financial asset, really. It brings tourists of all sorts into town who contribute to local businesses. I also have a wonderful group of volunteers to work with who make it all possible."

Another factor contributing to the successful relationship between the city and the airport was formation of an all volunteer Airport Advisory Committee in 2009.

Airport Advisory Committee President and AOPA volunteer, Steve Shallbetter said education as to the value of an airport is vital to a healthy relationship with the city council, business owners, and local residents.

"The Airport Advisory Board consists of seven members," said Shallbetter. "Of those seven members, only three can be pilots. The other four are citizens or business owners in the community. With that mix on the board, nobody can ever say that it's a biased In a day and age where some rural airports struggle to keep the doors open, Longville, Minnesota, with a population of just 156, has a municipal airport that thrives.

Longville Municipal Airport was established in the 1950s by a group of pilots who owned summer homes in the area surrounded by lakes where boating, fishing, water skiing, snowmobiling, ATV use, and hiking are the recreational activities.

At that time, the airport was perceived by the city and local residents as a wealthy person's playground. Around 2005, local pilots began to meet Saturday mornings at Patrick's Restaurant for coffee and breakfast.

The idea of inviting locals and visitors to a Fly-In Breakfast to bring awareness of the actual value an airport brought to the community was discussed and developed. The first year of the event, about 250 breakfasts were served. That number has grown to about 1,100 breakfasts nowadays. The Longville Chamber of Commerce has been a major partner in making the pancake breakfast a success.

As the annual Fly-In grew, other community members became involved. Now, the local fire department, regional medical facilities, and car clubs provide interesting visuals and demonstrations for attendees.

Local resident, Christina Herheim feels fortunate in her dual role as Longville City Clerk and Municipal Airport Manager.

"I am really fortunate to work in this area," said Herheim. "The airport is a huge financial asset, really. It brings tourists of all sorts into town who contribute to local businesses. I also have a wonderful group of volunteers to work with who make it all possible."

Another factor contributing to the successful relationship between the city and the airport was formation of an all volunteer Airport Advisory Committee in 2009.

Airport Advisory Committee President and AOPA volunteer, Steve Shallbetter said education as to the value of an airport is vital to a healthy relationship with the city council, business owners, and local residents.

"The Airport Advisory Board consists of seven members," said Shallbetter. "Of those seven members, only three can be pilots. The other four are citizens or business owners in the community. With that mix on the board, nobody can ever say that it's a biased board toward the airport."

One of the goals of the advisory board is to keep the airport self-sustaining financially with hangar leases, fuel sales, ramp fees, state reimbursement for maintenance and operation, and federal grants.

"Each month, a member from the advisory board attends the city council meeting," said Shallbetter. "They present an airport brief to the council. That way the council is always up to date with what is happening at the airport.

"If the advisory board has a recommendation, feels something needs to be done or changed, we take that recommendation to the city council. The city council has full authority on how the airport is actually operated. We are strictly an advisory board."

Local resident, pilot, and airport volunteer Kurt Dahlen has seen many improvements in the airport since he became involved in the mid-1990's.

"Today we are in a situation where the airport operates in the black," said Dahlen. "We've got short and long-term plans. Those plans are predicated on the thoughtful process of where we are today, where we think we're going, and how much it's going to cost. With all those pieces falling into place now, I think we've got a pretty good handle on where this airport is going in the future.

The airport is currently developing a five-year plan, and a 20-year Master Plan that includes additional hangar space, ramp and runway maintenance, partial parallel taxiways, obstruction removal, and repositioning the A&D building closer to the ramp.

Photo courtesy of Steve Shallbetter

Tom Eggert taking off in his 1937 Waco YKS-7 for pleasant summer afternoon flight. Hangars at Longville Airport are privately owned. At present, there are 34 hangars. Plans are in the making for an additional hangar this spring. The 20-year Master Plan allows for additional hangar space to become available.

Longville Municipal Airport now has 34 private hangars with one additional space slated for building this spring. Hangar owners have a 25-year lease with a 10-year renewal option, which adds to the stability of airport growth.

"We are partnered with SEH Engineering," said Shallbetter. "Their help has been vital in project planning. The level of support they provide for the project has been absolutely essential in developing the airport."

Longville Municipal Airport pilots also engage in other outreach programs including Angel Flight, animal rescue, charity flights, and community fund raisers.

Every Saturday morning at 9 o'clock, local pilots meet at Patrick's restaurant for breakfast and to keep the dialogue about the airport active in the community.

Longville Airport's courtesy car is a 2002 Lincoln Continental with about 60,000 miles on it so visiting pilots will enjoy a pleasant ride should they wish to attend.

"The main reason for success at the Longville Airport is due to the willingness of pilots, other volunteers, and the city to work together," said Shallbetter. "That's important."

 

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