The Federal Aviation Authority has granted the town $1 million to fix taxiway lighting and install a runway vertical/visual guidance system at the Payson Municipal Airport.
Sheila DeSchaaf, acting town manager, announced the town had asked for an 80% match in the project, but the FAA “came back with a 100% match.”
The council unanimously voted to accept the grant during its May 14 meeting.
Payson’s airport serves a critical function in the middle of the 2.9-million-acre Tonto National Forest.
“There is no other public use airport within 40 nautical miles of Payson,” wrote the town on its website.
During fire season, the Forest Service bases its air operations at the airport. Because the tarmac sits at 5,157 feet, the view of the rolling hills and mountain vistas provide a perfect outlook for firefighters.
The airport is one of 46 general service airports in Arizona. Personal aircraft fly in and out daily, many pilots stopping to eat at the Crosswinds Restaurant. Businesses use the airport for deliveries and transportation.
The airport has an automated weather observation system and continuous runway lights operated by pilot-controlled aircraft radios.
To serve the “ever-changing needs of the air transportation industry” the airport provides aircraft services (fuel and repair), storage facilities and continually seeks to upgrade the airfield with improvements. Currently, 85 aircraft call the Payson airport home. The town hopes to increase that number to 100 this year.
With a 5,504-foot-long, 75-foot-wide runway, the airport accommodates piston engine aircraft, turboprop aircraft, and small business jet aircraft. Helicopters have a 50x50 feet concrete helipad.