By Faye Gaston
The Franklin Field Airport, located on highway 110, is a major asset for Bullock County.
There is no railroad or waterways to transport people here. So the purpose of the airport is to be a "lure" for new industry to come to Bullock County. It is a "hub" to make neighboring cities easily accessible, such as Montgomery, Troy, Eufaula, etc.
A courtesy car is provided to drive to those cities or locations in Bullock County, It is used a lot. Visitors to the Field Trials and hunting lodges in the county fly into the airport. It is a public airport, and big Jet airplanes land here since the runway was extended.
The Franklin Field Airport Authority board members are all volunteers. Board Chairman is Thomas Main. Vice Chairman is Cope Lawrence. Secretary/Treasurer is Suzanne Johnson. Other members are Melma Gillis (on Bullock County Development Authority board) and Hunter Smith (newest board member).
Legal counsel is provided by Attorney Von Memory who replaced Louie Rutland upon his retirement. Board members are appointed by the Bullock County Commission for a 4-year term.
Attorney Von Memory and Board members Hunter Smith and Thomas Main are pilots. There are three hangars, buildings for storing the airplanes. Each hangar holds four airplanes for a total of 12 active airplanes. Originally there were 2 hangars to hold 8 airplanes.
There is a waiting list for hangar rental. In 2019, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby was responsible for securing $175,000 for extra paving around the hangars and terminal.
Originally there were no bathrooms. Bathrooms were added, as well as a "pilots lounge" with couches, snacks, drinks, internet access and a computer.
There are four main sources of funding. (1) The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) gives funding to all airports. (2) The Alabama Department of Transportation (ADOT) assists with state funding. (3) The Bullock County Development Authority provides county funding. (4) Goodwyn, Mills, Cawood, an engineering company, files applications for grant money. Funds are ear-marked for improvement of the airport.
Small pieces of property adjoining the airport need to be purchased to enlarge the airport, getting trees out of the way for the landing of airplanes. Investors are needed.
The board meetings are held at the airport and are open to the public. Notices of the meetings are posted in the local Herald newspaper.
The most recent meeting was held on March 25, 2021. Present were: board members, Thomas Main, Cope Lawrence, Suzanne Johnson, Melma Gillis and Hunter Smith; Legal Counsel, Von Memory; Chairman of Bullock County Commission, Alonza Ellis, Jr.; Faye Gaston, Herald newspaper reporter; Addie Smith (accountant) and Matt Thomason of Goodwyn, Mills, Cawood via teleconference.
The agenda included the airport fencing project status, FAA Grant this year, fence damage from wrecks follow-up, and purchase of adjoining property pertaining to the fence project.