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Thu, Oct 05, 2023

DeKalb County Airport (GWB) Celebrates Runway Reopening

Newly-Extended Runway Promises Increased Traffic & Revenues

DeKalb County, Indiana Airport (GWB) Fixed Base Operator (FBO) Sweet Aviation celebrated the reopening of the airport’s runway with a 29 September 2023 ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Subject runway was closed in July 2023 for purpose of undergoing an extension and upgrade. The newly-improved runway measures 7,105-feet—2,105 feet longer than its previous incarnation. The extra length will allow the airport to accommodate the vast majority of general aviation aircraft—from the most gossamer Light-Sport machines to lightly-loaded Gulfstream, Global Express, and Falcon jets. The refurbished runway features, also, new lighting, paint, signage, and a new Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) for arriving aircraft.

DeKalb County Airport Manager Russ Couchman, BF&S Civil Engineers executive vice-president Paul Shaffer, and Airport Authority board president Jess Myers addressed event attendees, which included local, state, and federal elected officials, as well as members of the press—but was closed to the public.

Following the ribbon-cutting, a business jet executed a ceremonial landing on the new runway. 

Mr. Couchman stated: “We know that we have a safer, more capable airport today than we did yesterday. Whenever we can put more runway in front of an aircraft, we give the crew more time to think and react, and this will always lead to better outcomes. At 7,105 feet, the DeKalb County Airport is now in an elite class of regional corporate class airports.”

Couchman added: “We look forward to supporting both our general aviation and business class customers as we become an even greater economic engine in the region. Thank you to all of our customers for hanging in there with us through this construction process.”

In addition to marking the opening of the newly-improved GWB runway, the ribbon-cutting ceremony occasioned, more or less, the one-year anniversary of Sweet Aviation’s assumption of the role of principal DeKalb County Airport FBO. Over the last 12-months, Sweet Aviation’s team of qualified and motivated personnel has broadened the airport’s services and bettered its facilities and amenities. Transient and GWB-based pilots may avail themselves of the FBO’s comfortable pilot lounge, concierge service, flight simulators, and even a full laundry service.

Sweet Aviation manager Scotty Hepler remarked: “Some jets aren’t able to take-off on a five-thousand-foot runway with a full capacity of fuel and passengers. That extra 2,105-feet allows us to bring in bigger and heavier jets that are full.”

Formal efforts to expand the GWB runway commenced in 2009, when the DeKalb County Airport Authority began purchasing the requisite land. The undertaking required the relocation of high-tension power-lines, the purchase of wetland mitigation in-lieu of fee credits, the extension and closure of area roads, and the construction of drainage systems.

Phase-One of the runway extension comprised preparations for paving, and saw earthwork grading to the tune of 145,000-cubic-yards of regolith redistributed across 85-acres, as well as the laying of 4,970-linear-feet of new sewer-piping.

Phase-Two entailed another one-hundred-thousand-cubic-yards of earthwork and the laying of an additional 2,400-linear-feet of sewer-pipe.

Total project costs, to include planning, design, and construction, totaled $23.8-million.

In 2024, the GWB Airport Authority will undertake construction of a new Runway 27 glideslope transmitting-array and Medium-intensity Approach Lighting System (MALSR). In 2025, engineers and construction crews will extend taxiway “A” to match the refurbished runway’s full length.

To accommodate projected increases in air traffic and fuel-demand, Sweet Aviation will presently add two new refueling trucks to its extant fleet: a five-thousand-gallon Jet-A refueler, and a one-thousand-gallon 100LL AVGAS truck. Additionally the airport’s management is about the business of completing a new 100LL self-service fuel station, which is slated to open by mid-October 2023.

DeKalb County Airport functions as an economic gateway to and from Northeast Indiana. The facility annually contributes some $16-million to Indiana’s state budget—which currently enjoys a $3-billion surplus.



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