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Airport of the Month – Moorhead

Pavement Maintenance Remains A City Priority

 

October 1, 2021

Photo Courtesy Moorhead Community Development Director Kristie Leshovsky

Since the age of the oldest pavement was 20-plus years, an improvement program at the Moorhead Municipal Airport was initiated in 2017.

Downtown Moorhead is having a renaissance. It's a welcoming place featuring some great artwork. The Ace Hardware Store on Main has added to the ambiance by sponsoring a mural of Florence Klingensmith.

The Moorhead native was one of 99 women aviators who banded together to promote aviation for the female gender of the human species. Not surprisingly, the organization is called the "Ninety-Nines." They started in 1929 with Amelia Earhart as the first president. Among her claims to fame, Klingensmith flew the notorious "BeeGee" in the 1931 National Air Races. It was an aircraft only she and Jimmy Doolittle truly mastered. A BeeGee is in the background of the Ace Hardware mural. Moorhead didn't have an airport back then, so when Klingensmith went into airport management she had to cross the river to Fargo.

Moorhead now has a modern General Aviation airport. A 4,300-foot runway can handle most of the GA fleet. It has RNAV approaches and the lighting systems that make all weather operations easy plus a full parallel taxiway to make it safe. Moorhead has both an FBO and an avionics shop. If your aircraft needs work, it's the place to go. Tie downs are absolutely free. Both jet fuel and avgas are for sale. Rental cars and taxis offer ground transportation plus a courtesy car is available for short term use. Moorhead has lots of good eating spots, luxurious places to stay, and three golf courses to help ruin a good walk. Roger Maris once played baseball here and the current "Red Hawks" continue the tradition.

Airport maintenance has been a city priority and the pavement has had an exceptionally long life. Since the age of the oldest pavement was 20-plus years, an improvement program was initiated in 2017.

First the hangar area and apron were rehabilitated over a two-year period. That brought Moorhead a Merit Award, so the city pressed on. Pavement condition surveys done by Minnesota Department of Transportation Aeronautics indicated resurfacing to be more cost effective for the other pavements rather than waiting until a major reconstruction became necessary. The runway went first.

A 3-inch overlay was placed in two lifts to assure a "good ride." While the runway was closed, a new lighting system was installed with conduits replacing the old direct bury cables. The new lights use "Light Emitting Diodes." Commonly called LEDs, this type of lighting requires significantly less maintenance and should provide energy savings of over 40%. The work was well planned and executed so the airport was only out of service for 30 days. In 2021 the taxiway received the same treatment. All the pavement is now smooth, black and waiting for your arrival.

While keeping the facilities in good condition, the city has also encouraged development at the airport. When it opened in 1996 there was one larger hangar and seven T-hangars. Moorhead has since constructed 27 more T-hangars and private development has added 10 large buildings. This is a busy place with over 50 based aircraft and effectively a reliever for Fargo/Hector Field where Klingensmith once worked. In the 21st century, the Ninety Nines are an international organization with 155 chapters worldwide. Among their good works are scholarships for women who want to pursue a career in aviation. Maybe in the future one of them will turn up to manage the Moorhead Airport.

Photo Courtesy Moorhead Community Development Director Kristie Leshovsky

In 1996 there was one larger hangar and seven T-hangars. Moorhead has since constructed 27 more T-hangars.

Moorhead started out as the place where goods were transferred between the boats plying the Red River of the North and oxcarts. The boats connected with points north and the oxcarts to the Mississippi. Boat crews and oxcart drivers liked to let loose after a long journey. At one point, Moorhead had over 100 taverns plus other less desirable forms of entertainment. Civilization came with the railroad. Major highways also intersect here so the town remains a transportation hub.

Now a prosperous city with over 40,000 citizens, Moorhead is famous for education instead of hard drinking. Four colleges and universities call this home. A student population of over 14,000 may cause some vestigial excitement on Saturday nights, however. Most entertainment is now more family oriented. Besides downtown, there's a thriving arts community and 48 city parks. Florence Klingensmith would be proud of her home town and the city's first-class airport.

 

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