How Hebron Municipal Airport Boosts Economic Growth and Development
25 May 2023
Municipal airports in rural areas, especially those dependent on agriculture, are an integral economic piece to the growth and sustainability of local businesses across industries/sectors. Nestled between four-lane highway 81 and two-lane highway 136, in ‘Nebraska’s Porch Swing Capital,’ is Hebron Municipal Airport, a major benefactor to Hebron, Thayer County, and Nebraska’s economic growth.
“Hebron Municipal Airport (HMA) has a powerful impact on the agricultural sector of Thayer County, as well as surrounding counties. Currently, there are four, well-established agricultural sprayers, three utilizing larger turbine planes, and one helicopter spraying service. Each type of aircraft provides specialized spraying. These spraying services hire pilots and support personnel to load aircraft with fuel, water, and chemicals, many of which are locally hired, and chemicals are locally purchased. These services have prompted non-local, certified mechanics and pilots to be hired, prompting them to relocate to Hebron. Such services also assist our farming community with protecting and increasing potential crop production.
HMA also houses the Automated Weather System (AWOS) which supplies continuous information that impacts flight arrivals and departures. This information is vital as our local healthcare system is designated as a Basic Level Trauma Center (Level IV), and is the only Level IV Trauma Center in the region. Medical transport helicopters land at the hospital and fixed-wing medical transport can land at the airport.” - Bill Linton, Hebron Airport Authority President
When doctors, contractors, and other temporary personnel for various industries are flown in, they land at HMA. Temporary personnel support the local economy through local lodging, frequenting local restaurants, and visiting local businesses. Temporary personnel have been known to stay as short as a few hours, to as long as a few months. HMA gives an advantage to patient care allowing doctors the ability to fly in and fly out within the same day versus driving four/five hours one-way.
Fueling services have been a commodity since the 1960s at HMA. Since 2017, thanks to an FAA grant, with the installation of self-serve credit card pumps, fueling stops tripled due to the convenience of landing and refueling at a rural airport that does not charge landing fees. HMA has welcomed aircrafts from New York to California, and everywhere in between. Pilots are also able to rest in the pilots’ lounge, if needed.
Due to Hebron’s hospitality, HMA instituted a courtesy car service. Mainly used by pilots and passengers a few times per week, this option allows visitors to eat at local restaurants, pick-up supplies, and browse area businesses purchasing souvenirs during their downtime between flights.
State-Measured Economic Impact
To “quantify how aviation in Nebraska impacts the State’s economy,” Nebraska Aviation Counts performed a study and compiled a report in 2019/2020, forecasting two-year projections. According to their findings, HMA estimated an annual $2.8M state-measured economic impact. The report was split into two fiscally identifiable groups, Direct Impacts and Spin-offs. As defined by the report:
- Direct Impacts relate to the provisions of aviation services, visitors’ spending, or the activity of aviation-reliant businesses. HMA’s direct, state-impacted revenue:
- On-airport = $1.6M
- Visitor spending = $605K
- Construction = $536K
- Spin-offs - are a combination of indirect and induced impacts. “Indirect Impacts are portion of direct business revenue from affected businesses used to purchase goods or services within the state. Induced Impacts are portions of direct or indirect revenues paid to on-airport workers and spent on goods and services within the state. While HMA has 5.5 on-airport employees, its presence generated 22 jobs within the state. Other indirect/induced impacts include:
- Payroll = $1.3M
- Annual Visitors = 800
- Average Airport Construction (4 years) = $310K
Had the pandemic not been a factor, and no new jobs added, Hebron Municipal Airport was estimated to impact Nebraska at $3.8M annually by the end of 2022.
What Type of Airport is Hebron Municipal Airport?
Hebron Municipal Airport (HMA) is predominantly for smaller personal, business, and agricultural aircraft. There is a 3,600 ft concrete runway with pilot-controlled lighting, and a 2,500 ft grass runway without lighting. The type of aircraft’s ability to land, determines the length of runway needed. Type of aircrafts accommodated have been:
- Small jets
- 10-passenger King Air used for
- Military training runs
Responsible for all activities relating to and running the airport, including adherence to FAA’s and Nebraska Department of Transportation - Aeronautics Division’s regulations and inspections, HMA is governed by the local Airport Authority consisting of five elected board members. President Bill Linton has served in his position for 11 years. Other members include:
- Jay Huhman, Vice President
- Ambrose Heying, Secretary Treasurer
- Lyn Johnson
- Jim Rauner
Deb Craig is a contracted consultant providing accounting and administrative services.
As for the near future, the Authority is excited to be finalizing plans with Wells Flying Services to build a new hangar this summer for their agricultural spraying planes.
- Upcoming office space for rent starting in June 2023
- Farmland adjacent to the hangars for relocation and expansion
- Hangar rental needs
Aviation activity can greatly influence economic growth and development locally and across the state. The growth and success of our local airport is a great example of how a cluster of industries can create economic impacts on our county. We applaud the airport authority and the businesses taking flight and expanding at our airport. Here in Thayer County, the sky's not the limit, but merely the beginning of possibilities. Come join us here in the good life, and thrive with us in Thayer County.