In accepting a proposal from Dan A. Hughes Management Inc. to fund up to $1.25 million in improvements to reopen Chase’s main runway in return for a 10-year county tax abatement, the community has struck a win-win deal with Hughes.
With the local petroleum company fronting the massive upgrade to the runway, painting and striping, lighting system and eventually state-of-the-art global positioning system navigation system, Chase will be attractive to fixed-wing maintenance activities. Reactivating the main runway has long been desirable, but BDA could not afford the capital investment when industries needed so much work to the hangars and elsewhere.
Hughes desired a longer runway for its jet and Chase’s 8000-foot-by-200-foot runway more than met its needs. Chase’s runways have handled jets right up to C-130s and 747-size craft over the years, including Airforce One.
The lighting system and runway upgrades will take roughly six months to install, according to BDA Executive Director Joe B. Montez. The process for gaining approval for the GPS system and installation might take up to two years. The upgrades would only be for the main runway with the crosswind and outboard runways continuing to be closed but maintained, Montez says. The tower will remain closed with air traffic control coming from Corpus Christi and Houston.
Hughes will build a new hangar for the jet north of the old tower with room for future development and additional hangars, if needed by others.
“This is something Sikorsky has desired and opens the door for many fixed-wing operations,” Montez says.
From the beginning of base closing in the early 1990s, it’s been known that an aviation industrial park would be the highest and best use of the former Navy facility. Thanks to the willingness of Hughes and the county to work with the BDA on this project, Chase has taken an important step forward.
Even in a national economic downturn, Bee County continues to move forward with positive developments.