More traffic taking flight

Traffic at the Neil Armstrong Airport, located outside of New Knoxville, has been picking up since spring.
“We’-ve been extremely busy during the last two months,” Neil Armstrong Airport Manager Sean Stroh said. “We’ve seen a huge increase in corporate and agriculture traffic.”
Stroh said while every spring the airport has some increased traffic from crop dusters, this year that number nearly doubled what it would be during an average year.
“More farmers used aerial applications since they were unable to get in the wet fields,” Stroh said.
Also increasing in the past two months has been business traffic.
Stroh said he is hopeful that increase could be connected to an improving economy, but it could be based on a number of factors.
“We are seeing a lot of new companies coming to the area that we have not seen before,” Stroh said.
Adding to traffic at the airport this month was the use of it during Eldora Speedway’s “Prelude to the Dream” races featuring several NASCAR drivers on June 8.
“We received a portion of that traffic, approximately seven or eight aircraft,” Stroh said, noting that 100 passengers came through the airport within a two-hour span for the race.
Also as part of the event, the county airport hosted the DirecTV blimp, which provides aerial footage during the event, for the week. The airship was tied to a location at the airport until it departed.
“The first part of our year was very slow but over the last 2 1/2 months, we’ve seen a steady increase in traffic,” Stroh said. “Hopefully that will continue.”
With summer being one of the traditionally busiest times for the airport, Stroh said recreational travel does seem to be picking up, too, as fuel prices decrease.
“The recreational flyers have been pinched because of high fuel costs,” Stroh said. “Some of the best weather to fly in is during the summer and we are usually busy. When the sun is out, people seem to be taking to the skies.”
So far, that has held true with fliers staying out of the skies during recent heavy storms but business picking back up to make up for it when the weather is nice.
Stroh said he’s hoping the trend continues throughout the summer.