Apr 04, 2021 11:29 PM

Salina skies booked heavy into autumn

Posted Apr 04, 2021 11:29 PM

By TIM UNRUH
Salina Airport Authority

Fruitful gazing into the north-central Kansas airspace is assured this summer as Salina Regional Airport plays host to 11 aviation events.

A few have public possibilities to watch from a distance, and two will allow visitors to hangars or the airport apron.

Most of the exercises are for training, testing, and-or scientific investigation.

All of the activity equates to people coming to town, said Sylvia Rice, Visit Salina director of the Salina Area Chamber of Commerce.

The busy season will bring an estimated 910 visitors to Salina, each spending an average of 20 days in town, producing approximately $2.6 million in economic impact, according to the Salina Airport Authority.

They will book rooms in hotels, rent vehicles, dine out at restaurants, shop at retail stores, and visit local attractions.

“Every one of these people involved in the exercises and events is a visitor,” Rice said. “These airmen and airwomen, depending on their schedules, do a great job of getting out into the community.”

But Visit Salina won’t promote the military events as attractions.

“Quite frankly, they’re here doing business,” she said. “Obviously, they’re in the sky because that’s the nature of what they do, but we don’t talk a lot about them publicly. We’re not promoting people to run out to the airport and take a look, unless there is a public component.”

The impact on Salina is tremendous, Rice said.

“We’re proud to host these operations,” said JoAnn McClure, sales manager for Visit Salina at the chamber. She serves as a liaison for the visitors and provides lots of information about Salina and Saline County.

“I give them options for their free time, vehicles rentals, what’s available outside of the airport and the weapons ranges,” McClure said.

Reunions from the Schilling Air Force base days, and public events such as Hawgsmoke military aviation competition, and the occasional open house at the Smoky Hill Air National Guard Weapons Range, are openly promoted, Rice said. Regardless of whether these are marquee events, folks notice.

“It’s an attention getter and part of our history,” Rice said, “and there are a lot of people who look up into the sky and actually identify the airplane.”

Two events may allow public visits if COVID19 protocols permit.
NASA returns to Salina Regional Airport July 5 through Aug. 31 for intensive study of the Dynamics and Chemistry of the Summer Stratosphere (DCOTSS).

Research targets the North American Monsoon Anticyclone (NAMA) “that dominates circulation of the North-Western Hemisphere,” according to NASA promotional materials.

“Strong convective (thunder) storms from the vertical transport of heat and moisture in the atmosphere,” according to the National Weather Service.

They are not seen in such magnitude or at such high latitudes anywhere else around the globe, according to NASA. “The DCOTSS project directly addresses this knowledge gap.

A media day and NASA Social — open to all ages — will be announced.
The public can “Meet and speak with scientists and engineers, learn about NASA missions, and discover with hands-on science fun.” 

The event this summer is one of three 8-week science deployments out of Salina. Visit https://espo.nasa.gov/dcotss/content/DCOTSSto learn more.

“Made in the Shade,” a B-25J bomber from the Arizona Commemorative Air Force, is set to visit July 7 through 12.

Viewing the aircraft from outside is free, but admission is charged for tours and actual flights. Watch for details, such as times and prices.

Other events include:

●Sierra Nevada Corporation, based in Sparks, Nev., will conduct three weeks of runway and flight performance assessment and testing with the DC-9 airliner. SNC is an aerospace and national security contractor specializing in aircraft modification and integration, space components and systems, and related technology products for cybersecurity and health.

●U.S. Airmen and F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 17th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, plans to execute “Plains Warrior Exercise” May 3 through 16 at SLN. The South Dakota Air National Guard squadron will operate with two to four F-16s, flying sorties and practice combat missions at the Smoky Hill Air National Guard Weapons Range, just southwest of Salina.

●Goldspike 1.0 involves the 303rd Fighter Squadron and 442nd Fighter Wing, for night operations from May 10 through 14, from Salina Regional Airport. The squadron from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, will use up to five A-10s, a C-130, two King Air aircraft, and two CH-47 Chinook helicopters.

●The 302nd Airlift Wing, based at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, is scheduled for a week of training, Sept. 5 through 10, out of Salina Regional Airport. Up to three C-130, four-engine turboprop military transport planes will be used in the training.

●U.S. National Aerobatic Championships, Sept. 15 through 30 at SLN, will bring up to 100 competitors aiming to qualify for the International Aerobatics Championship. The event is not open to the public. However, the action can be viewed for free from Fossett Plaza at the west end of Beechcraft Road, near AvFlight, Salina’s fixed-base operator business. Glean more details at the Nationals Aerobatic Championships Facebook page.

●Roughly 200 personnel and two aircraft from the 131st Bomb Wing will be based at Salina Regional Airport from Oct. 15 through 25 for expeditionary wing training.

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The above story is republished with permission from the Salina Airport Authority.