A paving crew is laying the last long strips of concrete to finish the 5,500-foot runway at the Sioux County Regional Airport.
The final, north half of the runway is being paved in four side-by-side half-mile-long strips, each 25 feet wide.
Each strip would take the team of about 50 people a full 12 hour day, keeping the pace of Cedar Valley Corp’s massive paving equipment.
The result is smooth concrete stretching from horizon to horizon – and it will be long enough to accommodate everything from single-propeller airplanes to business jets.
The rest of the regional airport site is also buzzing with activity.
“Although the wet conditions have delayed the runway and building work, we still are hoping to use the airport by late-November,” said Harold Schiebout, Sioux County Regional Airport board chair.
The airport’s terminal building, which features modern, airy design, is ready to be furnished. It offers a classy welcome for pilots, business people, and other travelers. The terminal’s design is several steps above what it would have been, thanks to private fundraising.
“The board appreciates the private donations for the terminal and also the MALSR system,” Schiebout said.
The MALSR, or Medium-intensity Alignment Lighting System with Runway indicator lights, is being installed near the south end of the runway. The sequenced, fog-piercing flashing lights are used to direct pilots landing in situations like low clouds.
Alongside the runway, Cedar Valley Corp has also completed paving the parallel taxiway.
“This is a significant safety feature that’s not available at our current airport or in Orange City,” Schiebout said. “Planes can get right off the runway after they land and stay off the runway until they are ready to take off.”
Next to the terminal building, one of the large hangars is ready to welcome planes, complete with a 70-by-14-foot bi-folding door. Work has started on the slightly larger hanger that will sit just north of that one.
Two long T-hangars have also been built, and people have already leased all 24 spots for airplanes. Work has begun on several private hangars as well.
“All in all, we will probably have about 35 airplanes here on a regular basis,” Schiebout said.
Randy Vander Weide will be the airport manager and fixed base operator (FBO). Randy currently manages both the Sioux Center Airport and the Spencer Airport. An FBO provides airport services such as fueling, charter service, hangar space, tie-down and parking, aircraft rental, maintenance, flight instruction, crop spraying services, and more.
The airport could ultimately have up to 15 employees working there, including pilots, fueling crew, maintenance workers and others.
The Sioux County Regional Airport is a joint effort by the City of Sioux Center, the City of Orange City, and Sioux County.
“It’s a great partnership,” Schiebout said, noting that the collaboration has caught the Federal Aviation Administration’s attention, as well as the Iowa Department of Transportation.
“It’s also exciting to see the local interest in using the airport, too,” he added. "There’s a lot of enthusiasm."