Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

July 13, 2013

Aviation upgrade — Positive progress at Mercer airport

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— Recent developments at the Mercer County Airport represent a welcomed continuation of the positive progress that we’ve seen at the facility in recent months.

The latest news includes the hiring of Clint Ransom as the airport’s new manager and the planned purchase of a small aircraft that will be used for providing pilot training at the facility. The airport authority also is taking a look at long-requested community activities for the facility such as air shows, car shows and related gatherings.

Ransom is a local pilot with commercial airline experience. A native of Raleigh County and 2004 graduate of Shady Spring High School, he most recently worked as a Transportation Security Administration inspector at the Greenbrier Valley Airport in Lewisburg. Ransom also previously worked as a commercial pilot flying Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft for New Mexico Airlines. He even survived a lightning strike while piloting a plane.

Ransom brings welcomed experience in the aviation industry to the Mercer County Airport. He appears to be a good fit for the job. And he’s already working on several ideas for the airport. For example, Ransom is hoping to expand an existing relationship with the Mercer County Civil Air Patrol, and also is working to schedule a long-requested air show at the airport. He correctly notes that the airport’s purpose is to serve the community, and that the community should have exposure to the airport through events such as air shows, car shows and other public functions.

It was also announced last week that Sen. Bill Cole, R-Mercer, and his brother, Bluefield Mayor-Elect Tom Cole, are in the process of purchasing a small aircraft that could be used for providing pilot training at the airport. Such a pilot training program would be another welcomed addition to the airport. And it’s good to see that airport authority members also are taking a look at whether landing fees and ramp fees are a correct fit for the Bluefield-based airport, or if such charges would keep pilots from utilizing the facility.

All of the above efforts, along with other ongoing initiatives such as upgrades to the airport lobby and restroom facilities, are welcomed. If the region is to grow and attract new manufacturing and retail business, it will need a strong, first-class general aviation airport. If we don’t have an adequate facility, corporate traffic will bypass Mercer County to another airport that meets their needs.

That’s why all of the progress seen to date at the airport is welcomed. We urge the airport authority board members, and new manager Ransom, to keep working toward and fighting for a better airport for Mercer County.