Air­ports in re­gion saw more traf­fic also


Austin American-Statesman - - BUSINESS - B


Austin Ex­ec­u­tive Air­port near Pflugerville had about 300 air­planes for the week­end, up from about 120 on a nor­mal week­end, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor An­drew Perry said.

Perry also es­ti­mated that the air­port had about 160 heli­copter take­offs and land­ings Fri­day through Sun­day.

The six heli­copter land­ing ar­eas at Cir­cuit of the Amer­i­cas saw about 2,100 take­offs and land­ings through­out the week­end, said Steve Henry, owner of Fort Worth-based Henry Avia- tion, who was hired by cir­cuit or­ga­niz­ers to run the heli­copter op­er­a­tion.

Those air­craft came from most of the area’s air­ports, sev­eral tem­po­rary and pri­vate lo­ca­tions as well as Hous­ton, San An­to­nio and Fort Worth, he said.

He­li­copters from Ge­orge­town-based Char­lie Bravo Avi­a­tion landed at the cir­cuit about 440 times, coming from lo­ca­tions around the area, CEO Rene Ban­gles­dorf said.

McRae Avi­a­tion, which flew two he­li­copters out of a tem­po­rary lo­ca­tion off East Martin Luther King Jr. Boule­vard, landed at the cir­cuit about 150 times through­out the week­end, of­fice man­ager Bethany Ligon said.

Austin-based McRae ini­tially planned to use a tem­po­rary lo­ca­tion off South MoPac Boule­vard (Loop 1) just south of the river, but moved its base of op­er­a­tions af­ter city of­fi­cials re­stricted land­ings past 6 p.m., in part be­cause of con­cerns from nearby res­i­dents.

“The city placed lim­i­ta­tions on the hours of op­er­a­tion so that we would have been able to get our cus­tomers to the track but not back out,” Ligon said. “We were forced to change lo­ca­tion last minute in or­der to ac­com­mo­date our cus­tomer’s needs.”

Ligon and Ban­gles­dorf said they’re fine-tuning the lessons they learned for fu­ture events, but called the week­end a success, par­tic­u­larly in terms of safety.

“If you saw all the heli­copter traf­fic in the af­ter­noon, about 4 p.m. in the af­ter­noon on Sun­day, and knew how many were in the air in a very small area, it’s not sur­pris­ing — but def­i­nitely some­thing for which to be thank­ful,” Ban­gles­dorf said. “There were a lot of pro­fes­sional pi­lots, a lot of hurry up and wait. Things can hap­pen and noth­ing did.”

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