ASHLAND — Travelers in the north central Ohio region often flock to the region’s major cities, Columbus and Cleveland, for commercial flights departing from John Glenn Columbus International Airport and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
But, the region is also home to a handful of smaller regional and county airports that offer flight services to companies and private citizens alike.
Ashland, Richland and Knox Counties each have an airport, albeit of varying sizes and uses. Richland and Knox Counties have regional airports, which are larger than Ashland’s county airport. Common among the public-use airports is their ability to serve as a point place for local imports and exports.
Ashland County Airport is located just over an hour from Hopkins, the international airport in the closest major city, Cleveland, and about an hour and a half from Columbus’s international airport.
The main differences between Ashland County Airport and the two regional airports in the area — in Richland and Knox Counites — are the runway lengths and the size of the airplanes that can land at each airport, airport manager Dennis Baum said.
Ashland County Airport’s runway is 3,501 x 75-feet, whereas Mansfield Lahm Regional Airport in Richland County has a 6,819 x 150-foot runway.
“We’d like to get a longer runway down the road,” Baum said.
In the past few years, Ashland County Airport has seen the most traffic throughout the summer months. For example, traffic spiked on Aug. 5, 2021, with 21 arrivals and departures, but more recently on Dec. 30, 2021, the airport had five arrivals and departures, according to Flight Aware.
“A lot of this (traffic) is skydivers,” Baum said.
The airport serves several types of companies, including Aerohio, a skydiving center, Baum said. Another well-known name based at Ashland’s airport is Skywatch, a pipeline patrol service that does aerial surveillance.
The airport is also the site of medical work, Baum explained.
Ohio AME, a medical examiner in Ashland County, is located at Ashland County Airport to support the aviation medical needs of professional pilots, including medical certification processes.
Tailwinds Aviation is the airport’s fixed base operator. An FBO provides fueling, hangaring, airplane rentals, aircraft maintenance, flight instruction, among other services at the airport.
There are 39 aircraft based at the county airport, with 30 T-hangers and nine corporate hangars to store them, Baum said. Hangars are closed structures that hold aircraft, offering protection from weather and a space for maintenance and repairs.
T-hangars are shaped how they sound — in the shape of a “T,” or the shape of most general aviation airplanes — whereas corporate hangars also typically double as maintenance sites, in addition to storage.
Ashland County Airport has also been the location of community events, such as Ashland County Veterans Appreciation Day and pancake breakfasts.
Airport facility improvements are forthcoming in Ashland.
The Ashland County Airport Authority wants to build a 2,200 square-foot revamped terminal, for an approximate cost of $572,000. Also, Ashland County Commissioners hope to use funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to do so.
Separately, the Ashland County Airport will receive funds under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as will several local airports across Ohio.
Financial allocations are based on airport size. Ashland County Airport will receive $159,000. Nearby Mansfield Lahm Regional Airport and Knox County Regional Airport will receive $295,000, each.
Leadership of the local airports noted more precise plans will be detailed in the coming months regarding exactly how the funds will be used as more details are shared by the FAA.