The Pine Bluff Aviation Commission is waiting on the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics to make a decision on its request for money to make repairs at Pine Bluff Regional Airport Grider Field. Airport Manager Doug Hale requested the ADA provide $200,000 toward the third phase of an asphalt rehabilitation project. Grider Field has already received newly repaved asphalt for phases one and two. The project is a total of four phases.


Hale said the ADA restructured its grants with respect to its funding patterns.


“All small airports are very hopeful with the restructuring of their grant system that it will free up some funds and they will be able to fund grants they have pending such as ours,” Hale said at a meeting of the airport commission on Thursday. “They have numerous grants that are pending. Kudos to them for looking for ways to solve a problem.”


Hale has been waiting for nearly one year on this front. In other news, Ken Johnson, a member of the Black Pilots of America and chairman of the Aviation Commission, thanked Hale and other city employees for working to host the 21st Operation Skyhook. The event offers interactive exercises involving pilots flying airplanes.


Hale thanked fellow city of Pine Bluff employees for planning the event. Johnson said the Grider Field experienced a power outage on Sunday, May 28, and impacted visitors who came to the airport to experience Operation Skyhook. Pilots experienced stormy weather on Sunday, May 28.


About 100 people arrived in Pine Bluff among a total of 30 aircraft for the event. Johnson deemed it a success with visitors coming to Pine Bluff and flying. In financial news, Hale said Porterfield and Company CPA conducted an audit of Pine Bluff Regional Airport. The commissioners heard from Porterfield and Company audit manager Beka Harrison, who said her company did not find errors in the financial audit.


“We did not have any major differences or any major issues,” Harrison said via conference call. “Things seem to be fairly consistent with what you did in prior years. As usual, Doug and his team are always real quick to get any questions answered that we have and get us anything we need. Everything went real smooth and we did not run into any problems.”


Johnson asked Harrison how the airport’s revenue versus net income or losses compared to those categories in the previous year. Harrison responded that its operating income increased by about $28,000, largely due to increases in sales of fuel and oil; operating expenses increased by about $7,000.


Commissioners Dr. Michele Pashkevich, Harvey Sizemore, Rocky Thornburgh, and Johnson approved the 2016 financial audit. In other news, Hale discussed Mike Flight’s Service on behalf of pilot and instructor Mike Lain. It enrolls a student pilot Codney Washington who bought an airplane in Pennsylvania and flew it to Arkansas. Commissioners invited Grider Field Restaurant manager Stanley Harper to their next meeting at 11 a.m. on Thursday, July 20.