The value of potential growth on the east side of the Minden-Tahoe Airport has been apparent for over a decade. The 300 acres beckons to FBOs, soaring facilities, sports aviation activities, and youth programs, among many other opportunities. The measure of such growth manifests itself in a safer facility and unprecedented opportunities contributing to the economic vitality of our community.
Minden has come to be known as a “soaring Mecca” around the world, due to the exceptional weather in Nevada and along the eastern Sierra. From the beginning of soaring activities on the airport, safety has been a factor due to the facilities that exist on the west side, and operations need to commence from the east side due to the prevailing wind. This currently requires that equipment needs to be repositioned from the headquarters on the west side, towed on the ground, across two active runways to the staging area on the east side. Subsequently, gliders and tow planes when launching, must cross the active runway a few feet of the ground which often causes a conflict between the aircraft on takeoff from the main runway. If all glider operations were repositioned to airport east side, over half off the compromising situations would be eliminated. The airport will be safer and glider operations more efficient as well. At Minden-Tahoe Airport, safety always comes first.
The Airport has unlimited economic potential with the development of the 300 acres on the east side. At this point $9.5 million has been identified as the cost for taxi ways and taxi lanes.
Among the ranking of Nevada Airports, Minden Tahoe is fifth with 24 commercial operators and 400 based aircraft. Currently, there are 282 hangars and 108 individuals on the hangar wait list.
One project for this year includes $2.3 million to bid and construct Phase 4 of Taxiway Zulu on the east side of the main 34/16 runway.
In Phase 2 & 3, Physical Years 17-21, for design and construction of Taxiway Z, $5,681,554 was spent. During the same period, $1,875,282 was for the Eastside Apron, and another $2, 400,000 is designated for the East side in years 2023-2027.
There is substantial interest by several commercial aviation businesses in leasing and building on the East side. A particular investment firm proposes to lease 25 acres with an option for another 25 more for a turbine-engine maintenance and repair facility. There are also plans for glider hangars.
The current 2021-2022 County Property Tax Income Impact amounts to $259,236 from aircraft. Tax income from Gliders/Kit Planes is $17, 648. Lease holds create $134,716, and business accounts $1,702. That makes a total of $413,303 of County tax income is generated by the Airport from the West side only.
The two very substantial reasons to move forward with developing the East side are:
Prioritizing Safety with East side soaring facilities will eliminate most air and ground crossings on active runways.
Create Enhanced Economic Development for both the Airport and the Community.
Substantial County income tax will be generated when, not if, the east side is built. Leaseholds and taxes on maintenance facilities, aircraft, and equipment will contribute considerably to the economic vitality of both the Airport and the Community.
The Sports Aviation Foundation has received two community grants for an aviation complex which includes a viewing pavilion for aviation, soaring and service club events. Included in the complex is a Hangar for our STEM based Build-A-Plane program and youth activities.
The Foundation recently sponsored an Open House on May 21, continue weekly Build-A-Plane sessions, and will perform our annual fall Youth Aviation Adventure program on Sept. 10.
We need to get moving with east side development. The potential is right before our eyes. Things don’t just happen automatically. We need to make them happen. I remember when there were only a couple of small buildings on the east side of the Reno-Tahoe Airport. Now it’s built out and a very valuable economic asset to the airport and the community. It’s like learning to fly. One doesn’t just wake up one morning, able to fly. We had to learn, it took time and effort. The same is true for our airport. The potential is there. Let’s get to work. Support SAF and the Airport.
Please join us in bringing the future closer, sooner. All it takes is commitment, strategizing, and the cooperation of airport enthusiasts and the community.
Linda Mae Hivert is past president of the Sports Aviation Foundation. For more information visit www.sportsaviationfoundation.org