Some facts about the Minden-Tahoe Airport
I had the honor of working for Douglas County at the Minden-Tahoe Airport from November 1986 to February 1996.
Starting in operations and evolving into airport management, I had direct experience with the changes at our airport that would affect our community’s future. It is my intent to share a few historical facts so that you the reader may draw your own conclusions regarding the future of the airport.
1943 – The Army Corps of Engineers completed the construction of the airport to be used as a training facility for World War II aircraft, primarily P-51 Mustangs.
1947 – The operations and maintenance of the airport reverted to Douglas County.
1969 – Sen. Lawrence Jacobsen initiates a “transient occupancy tax” (room tax) to be used to maintain and operate the airport and to help fund the county library, parks/recreation and senior center.
1987 – The main runway 16-34 was reconstructed through an Airport Improvement Program funded mostly by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA 93.75 percent, county 6.25 percent). The federal funds are generated by aviation activities (fuel taxes, fees, etc,) The county determined that it wished to maintain a community “general aviation” (not large aircraft) airport and had the width of the runway reduced from 150 feet to 100 feet. The length (7,395 feet) was not changed. The pavement of the runway is 3 inches of asphalt or concrete on 4 inches of base material on top of 16 inches of sub-base material (gravel). The weight load ratings (current testing) are 60,000 pounds for single wheel aircraft and 75,000 pounds for dual wheel. As a point of reference, Reno-Tahoe Airport’s main runway is 11,002 feet long by 150 feet wide, with a solid concrete surface of 12-18 inches thick on top of several feet of base and sub-base materials. The weight load ratings are 75,000 pounds for single wheel and 185,000 pounds for dual wheeled aircraft. An MD-80 passenger airliner can weigh 140,000-160,000 pounds.
1988-1996 – Several more federally funded projects were completed on the aprons (aircraft parking areas), taxiways and lighting systems to improve safety and reduce maintenance costs. Land leases and T-hangers (small aircraft garages) were developed to provide more services to the airport users, create more income for the county general fund through private property taxes (airplanes), provide income for local businesses (tourism) and to strive for the goal of making the airport financially self-sufficient. In 1995 out of the nearly $2 million in room tax monies, the airport only required $125,000.
Currently the airport operates solely on its own revenues and is able to maintain a first class general aviation airport with the continued support of the FAA Airport Improvement Program.
Len Frueh is a former employee at Minden-Tahoe Airport and a 25-year resident of Douglas County.