Three small planes sat gleaming in the sun on Thursday afternoon. A fourth plane taxied off the runway and onto the ramp toward a waiting Nip Mohler, who directed the pilot to his tie-down space on the apron. Landings like the one at Camdenton Memorial Airport Thursday afternoon have been fewer in recent years, which directly affects fixed-base operators’ cash flow.


Lake Aviation Center serves as the operator of Camdenton Memorial Airport on the city’s behalf. At a recent Board of Aldermen meeting, co-owner Corey Leuwerke reported a steady decline in avgas and jetfuel sales. Year-to-date, fuel sales at the airport are down 12 percent.


“It’s typical. Of the other airport managers I talked to around the state, everybody is down 10 percent. I have heard as high as 30 percent down so it sounds like we are keeping up with the trend,” Leuwerke said.


Three small planes sat gleaming in the sun on Thursday afternoon. A fourth plane taxied off the runway and onto the ramp toward a waiting Nip Mohler, who directed the pilot to his tie-down space on the apron. Landings like the one at Camdenton Memorial Airport Thursday afternoon have been fewer in recent years, which directly affects fixed-base operators’ cash flow.

Lake Aviation Center serves as the operator of Camdenton Memorial Airport on the city’s behalf. At a recent Board of Aldermen meeting, co-owner Corey Leuwerke reported a steady decline in avgas and jetfuel sales. Year-to-date, fuel sales at the airport are down 12 percent.

“It’s typical. Of the other airport managers I talked to around the state, everybody is down 10 percent. I have heard as high as 30 percent down so it sounds like we are keeping up with the trend,” Leuwerke said.

The decline in fuel sales ties directly to a decline in general aviation flights. Fewer pilots fly for fun, and corporations are scaling back on private plane flights.

“We’ve had a couple of airplanes repossessed on the field,” Leuwerke told the Board of Aldermen. “It’s just the down economy. We’re trying everything we can.”

Ward III Alderman Sandy Osborn asked if the city government could act to help the airport.

“What do we need to do to shift that profit loss down?” Osborn asked

Camdenton Memorial Airport has a 4,000 ft. runway that is 75 ft. wide. Leuwerke said the airport needs a larger runway to accommodate bigger planes, which would help stimulate fuel sales. The city has been pursuing grants for runway construction for over year. A smaller runway limits airport traffic and sends larger planes to surrounding communities.

“We’ve lost some — I can name some corporate traffic we have lost to Lee C. Fine (Osage Beach) and Lebanon because, especially in the heat, 4,000 ft. is not enough,” Leuwerke told the aldermen.

The city of Camdenton received grants and spent some of its own money on new hangars and an automated weather observing system (AWOS), both moves that Leuwerke says make the airport more attractive to pilots and corporations. Airports with amenities attract expanding corporations who lease permanent hangar space.

Some corporations hire consultants whose specialty is to scout out airports. Companies evaluate several categories of airport performance when they eye expansion.

“They come in under cover, nobody knows in the city. They are used to getting the red carpet laid out, but they like to sneak in and they have a checklist. One of the things they check is the airport. Do they have an airport and how long is their runway?” Leuwerke explained.

Lake Aviation Center does most of the marketing for Camdenton Memorial Airport on the Internet, where pilots from all over turn when planning a trip. Locally, the FBO advertises and holds open house events to make the public aware of the service the airport provides.

“A lot of people don’t realize what the airport brings to the community, and that’s something we are trying to educate them on,” Leuwerke said.

Contact this reporter at rance.burger@lakesunonline.com.