MOUNT VERNON — 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.
Knox, Ashland, and Richland counties each have an airport, albeit of varying sizes and uses. Knox and Richland 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.
Knox County Regional Airport coordinates shipments for the county’s top employers, such as Mount Vernon manufacturer Ariel Corporation. But, the 386-acre airport, with 85 based aircrafts, serves small and large businesses alike, said airport manager Josh Wynn.
“Most of what we see is a reflection of what goes on in town,” Wynn said.
The airport serves student and staff travel for the nearby higher education institutions (Kenyon College and Mount Vernon Nazarene University), corporate flights, local factory supply shipments, and more.
Knox County Regional Airport’s hangars are occupied by local businesses, private owners flying recreationally, corporate operators and businesses based on the airport, including a flight instructor, crop duster, aircraft maintenance and a paint shop. The airport currently has a 24-person waiting list for hangars, Wynn said.
Flight activity throughout 2021 was generally higher compared with 2020 levels. Peak flight levels from 2021 were upwards of 20 arrivals and departures per day, and on the slowest day there were two, according to Flight Aware.
So far in 2022, flight activity has surpassed 2021 levels for January.
“There’s a percentage of the community in Knox County that doesn’t even know we exist, and yet there’s probably very few people in Knox County that haven’t directly or indirectly benefited by the airport being here — whether it be their employer uses us or, you know, freight has come in,” Wynn said.
“It’s a service to the community for sure.”
Former Airport Authority President Christopher Cordle, who relinquished the role to Peter Smith in December, said the airport is supported by various local, state and federal sources. The Knox County Board of Commissioners, Knox County Airport Authority, the city of Mount Vernon, the Knox County Foundation and the Federal Aviation Administration have all provided funds that help the airport operate and grow.
“Money comes from a wide variety of sources that indicate the airport’s impact in the region,” Cordle said.
“The airport is actually owned by the Knox County Airport Authority and the commissioners appoint the authority members. So, it’s a quasi-county government thing.”
Knox County Airport Authority meetings are open to the public and occur the third Monday of the month at the Airport Terminal.
Knox County Regional Airport has seen improvements in recent years, including a renovated runway, terminal building and taxiway program. A paving project is also forthcoming.
Airports across the state will be seeing a bump in funding throughout the next five years.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) recently announced Knox County Regional Airport will receive $295,000 in federal funding under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Nearby, Mansfield Lahm Regional Airport will also receive $295,000 and Ashland County Airport will receive $159,000. Financial allocations are based on airport size.
Overall, Ohio will receive almost $254 million in Airport Infrastructure Grant program formula dollars.