Published On: Thu, May 8th, 2014

Construction is taking place at Laurel Airport

LAUREL — A new building is going up at the Laurel Airport.

The building will house a new business here.

Construction on the facility, which will be used for an airplane maintenance business should be completed within a month, said  Norm Slama who will be the owner/operator.

A portion of the 60X67 foot metal building, which will have a cement floor, will be used as a hangar.

“People will bring planes in to be serviced or get engine work done,” Slama said.

The new building is located on approximately 11 acres of land which Slama purchased from Charlie Paulsen earlier this year.

The parcel is land that Paulsen had been leasing to the city to use for the airport.

Two businesses will now be located at the Laurel Airport.

This will be the second year for Clay Bode to operate Clay’s Flying Service at the Laurel Airport.

Bode, Wayne, pays a user fee to the city for using the airport.

Bode has been an ag pilot for 20 years and has been flying for 30 years.

Some of the local fire departments have approached Bode and asked if he would be available for assistance for a grass fire.

“I would use my plane to spray a fire suppression solution on the fire,” he said.

Slama, who is from Wakefield, and Bode appreciate the help they received from the employees at the City Office to get their businesses set up at the airport and the assistance they have received from two local men who have a definite interest in aviation.

“We couldn’t have done it without Ole Mallet and Charlie Paulsen,” Slama said.

Slama and Bode are planning on being involved in the city’s annual Ag Days celebration.

Slama and Bode are planning on having a number of planes on display at the airport. They have also offered to bring in volunteer pilots through the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) who would give kids, ages eight to seventeen, a ride.

Young Eagle Flights allow kids to see what their neighborhood looks like from the sky. For some, the ride will inspire them to become a pilot, aircraft mechanic, air traffic controller or another career possibility.

“We will have Young Eagle Flights here at the airport. The kids can have a ride. It is a good thing. It may get some of the kids interested in a career in aviation,” Slama said. “Planes will be on display at the airport during Ag Days – people will be able to walk around and look at them.”

Bode will also be helping out with the “Pingpong Ball Drop” during Ag Days. He will be flying over the city and dropping the ping-pong balls at the park.

Slama and Bode can see a lot of possibilities ahead for the Laurel Airport.

“It is a plus for the community,” Slama said.

Plans are underway to offer pilot training services by this fall. Several local people have showed interest in the training.

Students from area flight schools continue to use the runway for practice landings and takeoffs and general aviation pilots use the airport as needed.

“Martin Field, at South Sioux, utilizes the Laurel Airport for training on landing on grass runways,” Slama said.

Slama believes the airport would be an excellent location for a helicopter pad.

“There are no power lines and there is a lighted strip. It would be a good location for the air ambulance service,” Slama said.

An Iowa man has shared an interest in the Laurel Airport with Bode.

“I talked to a guy that was interested in this airport. He lives in Sioux City but wants to relocate to a smaller town,” Bode said.

There is a lot of interest in airports that have grass runways,  Bode said.

“There is a lot of nostalgia for airports with grass runways,” Bode said.

The entry to the Laurel Airport, which is located northeast of town, is just north of the railroad tracks that cross Spruce Street.

The city leases approximately 42 acres from three property owners. Approximately 20 acres of the property are used for the airport and 22 acres are farmed which brings an income into the city.