Coolidge aims for the stars

by Jon Thompson, Mayor, City of Coolidge

I’d like to take the time in this edition to talk about the great upgrades and new opportunities at the Coolidge Municipal Airport.

Over the last few years millions of dollars, thanks in part to federal grants, have boosted the airport’s functionality and future planned uses. In the last year, Runways 5/23 have been completely reconstructed and a masterplan for the airport is in the works that includes a spaceport-concept use.

Our airport has really transformed over the years from its military use back in WWII to present day when large commercial C-130 planes have taken off to help fight wildfires all across the world.
The Council and I see the airport as an important piece in the economic development toolbox, offering a comprehensive package to suit the needs of businesses. Our airport continues to expand with increased demand in hangar space, aviation-related maintenance, and other activities including parachute training for the armed forces.

Community is also a very important component to the airport.

Each first Saturday between October and April, the airport hosts a Fly-In in which dozens of people come out to meet and greet fellow pilots and plane enthusiasts. This event brings in people from all over the country and gives visitors the chance to get up close and personal with the various aircraft on display. This has been a Coolidge tradition spanning decades, and the flying community really enjoys the approach the City takes in helping to organize such a fun event.

With the historic nature and grand hangar that showcases the airport, movie studios and commercials have filmed many scenes from popular movies.

You might remember the famous cars parachuting from an airplane in the Fast and Furious 7 movie. That was filmed right here in Coolidge along with a Budweiser commercial and Sport Illustrated magazine photoshoot, to name a few.

Finally, a recent study conducted by Pinal County shows the Coolidge Municipal Airport as a great location for a future spaceport. This spaceport concept won’t launch astronauts into space but rather is intended for moving passengers and cargo quickly around the world.

The idea is to have an aerial vehicle take off as an airplane then climb extreme heights. The vehicle is then launched by rockets when at the ideal altitude. While all this might seem a bit out of a movie, several locations across the nation including California and New Mexico already have active spaceports. Coolidge is excited about this prospect and hopes someday to see this transportation mode in place.

As you can see, Coolidge offers a great selection of uses for our airport. From business expansion, movies and the future of spaceflight, the possibilities are endless. I’m exceptionally proud of what our airport has transformed into with many new and exciting projects planned in the future.

I hope you’ll visit our fly-ins now running through April. This is a great way to see historic structures that have withstood the test of time while meeting some great people in your community.