Pine Bluff Aviation Commission members said this week that there is a possibility of erecting a sign on U.S. 65 announcing Pine Bluff Regional Airport Grider Field’s location.


Airport manager Doug Hale broached the subject at a Thursday meeting, saying that the proposed location is around portable buildings about half a mile west of the intersection of U.S. 65 and Arkansas 81 just south of Pine Bluff.


“The owner of that property is allowing us to put a sign on his property away from the state’s easement,” Hale said.


Hale expects the sign to measure eight feet by four feet, and it may have wording on both sides. He did not specify the cost, because that would depend on the vendor who produces the sign and its complexity.


“The only airport marker sign that shows Grider Field is down here is a small blue sign,” Hale said. “It is erected and maintained by the [Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department.] We can’t put a sign up in the state’s easement. It’s against the law. The only way to know that Grider Field is down Grider Field Ladd Road is if you notice that small blue sign.”


Hale wants people to know that Grider Field exists and to know how to reach it.


“I have had people who have come to the airport who have ended up in Dumas because they have missed the turn,” Hale said. “We have local citizens who do not know that we have an airport or do not know where the airport is.”


In personnel news, Hale noted that airport bookkeeper Kay Vanlandingham will retire on March 31. Hale hired Sandy James, who began working at the airport on March 13, as her replacement.


Hale hired James Martin as a flight lineman, who is a brother-in-law of fellow flight lineman Mike Rodenberg. Hale informed the commissioners that he checked with the city’s human resources person to make sure this employment arrangement does not violate any nepotism laws, and that he was assured it is acceptable.


Hale said that Martin and Rodenberg do not report to each other, and that there have been several instances of other employees who happen to be family members working at the airport.


In other news, the Black Pilots of America will return to Grider Field from May 25 to May 28 for the 21st year of interactive exercises dubbed Operation Skyhook.


The pilots showcase their flying skills by competing in exercises, mingling with guests and answering questions. They will providing flights to area children provided the weather is favorable.


Pine Bluff Aviation Commissioner Ken Johnson expects about 120 pilots and guests from across the United States to fly in 45 airplanes.


“We will be providing rides for kids and pilot proficiency events at the airport during the weekend,” Johnson said. “The event attracts folks from as far as New York and California.”