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New Partial Parallel Taxiway at Lafayette Airport

By Debbie Gregory

As Lafayette continues to grow, it’s important that our local airport grows with it.


“We are doing some expansion at the Lafayette Municipal Airport,” said City Mayor Richard Driver, “and as all of you know, the airport is vital to our economy.”

Lafayette Municipal Airport is very busy and of course that goes to show how the fixed base operators, Richard Thomas and Mike Marshall (Sky Chaser Aviation), are doing. “They have really increased the air traffic here,” said the Mayor, “and their fuel prices are the lowest prices in Tennessee.”

“I know this is one reason people fly in here, for example last Tuesday we had the owner of Flex fly in, in his jet, and he was talking about how low the prices of fuel are at the airport here in Lafayette.”

“Of course my philosophy of an airport is, you never know in the future when there might be someone looking to locate a factory or business in a small town, and that person might be flying in, and might land in Lafayette, and say ‘you know this would be a good place to start my company that I’ve been wanting to start. I’ve been trying to find a place to locate and Lafayette looks like a good place.’ That’s what an airport is. And also, once they locate here, it is an easy access to visit their facility.”

“Flex has recently expanded their facility,” continued Mayor Driver, “and the owner flew in to inspect it and see what it looks like. That’s why an airport is important for those who own businesses or own an industry, to check on the facility and the employees.”

Mayor Driver says one of the issues that we have here, is safety concerns. “Of course, this money that is being funded for this, comes from TDOT and the FAA,” continued the Mayor. “As you know when we fuel a car up at a gas station, we pay a fuel tax, and as you well know last year Governor Haslam increased the fuel tax so that he can build more highways and that’s what this tax is for. Well, the same thing applies with the fuel tax at the airport. We have two fuel pumps here, one for jet fuel and one for gasoline and there is a tax on that just like fuel tax for cars. And the tax revenue that is generated from the sale of that fuel is used to improve airports.”

“This project is being funded by that money,” the mayor said. “Basically, 95 percent of it is being funded by the State of Tennessee and the FAA and 5 percent is a local match from the City of Lafayette. This project is about 1.2 million dollars, so you can see Lafayette is getting a 1.2 million project for only about 5 percent of the cost. So that is very good.”

“What we are doing here is addressing some issues: one is this much needed construction of a partial parallel taxiway,” noted Mayor Driver. “It does make sense to me, when you have airplanes traveling down a runway to take off, you don’t want them to have to run all the way down the runway and then have to turn around to take off. You need a parallel runway to give access to the main runway. For example, if you need to go to the north end of the runway, you can use the parallel taxiway, to take you to that north end and that way it will free the main runway for other planes to land. That’s the purpose of the parallel taxiway.”

“The other issue, which is my understanding, when you are almost ready to enter the runway from the taxiway, you want to be able to see at least 5 feet above the runway. The problem is, that the part you can see them cutting down here at the airport, prevented a pilot from looking  at the northern end of the runway from his aircraft. So, this is going to solve that problem.”

“Another thing, is that we need more room for airplanes,” detailed the Mayor. “Here, you can see we have an apron, this is going to be extended and this area where we are standing now, is going to be an apron for airplanes to park. Also the existing pavement is going to be milled and replaced. The pavement in the parking lot is also going to be milled and replaced.”

“A lot of work is being done at the Lafayette Airport,” said Richard Thomas, “and we appreciate all the City of Lafayette does to make the airport a better place, for Lafayette and the county as a whole.”

“You have to know how to run an airport and you have two gentlemen here, who have good business savvy and that’s what it takes,” said Mayor Driver. “In order for an airport to grow you need to increase your air traffic. They have really worked hard to make sure that this airport is visited. They keep it clean, they have some good aircraft here, they have a good flying school, and if anybody wants to learn how to fly, this is the place to come.”

“A lot of positive things have happened at the airport, since Richard Thomas and Mike Marshall took over,” added the mayor. “They have been very successful at the Lafayette Municipal Airport, without a doubt.”

The mayor said an airport is a positive thing for our community. “As city officials, we have to make sure our airport is maintained and that it serves it’s purpose, which is to help with the growth of our community, both economically and population wise. Sky Chaser Aviation is a big part of that, and Richard Thomas and Mike Marshall do a lot for our community.”