DeKALB – Continuing in the spirit of partnership between the city and Northern Illinois University, officials from DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport want to fly athletes locally rather than forcing them to travel to Chicago to catch a plane.
Airport manager Tom Cleveland said he has been working for several years toward obtaining a partial 139 limited commercial certification from the Federal Aviation Administration. He expects to have that certification by August.
"This is a hometown airport in a university community. It will be great to take care of more people," Cleveland said. "We can handle 737s and DC9s now, we just need the proper certification for passenger planes."
Cleveland said the facility probably would be limited to 12 to 14 flights a year, but said that number seemed to work for the NIU Athletics Department. He indicated the 7,025-foot runway is longer than that of Midway International Airport in Chicago.
"Our runway is longer, we just don't have the weight-bearing capacity," Cleveland said.
DeKalb Mayor John Rey said infrastructure improvements to accommodate heavier aircraft are included in the city's five-year plan.
"An assistant basketball coach told me it costs $25,000 to fly the team out of O'Hare to a game on the west coast," Rey said. "We could bring those dollars into the local economy."
"We would love to accommodate Northern athletes," Rey added.
Another addition to the airport recently approved by the City Council is a new hangar being built by Win Aviation.
"One of the things that's very important to the City Council is to grow the business at the airport," DeKalb public works director T.J. Moore said. "Now, a longtime business at the airport is expanding."
The new high-tail hangar will be about 27,000 square feet with a door 100 feet wide and 25 feet high, allowing for storage of larger aircraft. The City Council authorized the mayor to sign a 50-year land lease agreement with Win Aviation to allow construction of the new hangar.
"Sometimes they leave the jets sit outside, and sometimes they drop off passengers and go to Aurora or DuPage to house the plane overnight," Cleveland said. The new hangar will be able to house those corporate jets, he said.
Cleveland said the new building will be erected north of the main hangar on Pleasant Street. He indicated construction will begin as soon as the weather allows this spring.
According to its website, Win Aviation is a global remarketing, acquisition and maintenance firm. It is a global operation with agents in more than 10 countries including Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa.
Business owner Andri Weise declined to comment on the new hangar.