KINGSFORD, Mich. (WZMQ) – In a showcase of progress, the Ford Airport in Kingsford opened its doors to around 30 members of the Rotary Club today, providing them with an exclusive opportunity to witness firsthand the impressive strides being made at the freight hub of the Upper Peninsula.
The highlight of the tour was the newly operational hangar, which now proudly houses the relocated Veterans Service Office. Over a satisfying lunch within the spacious hangar, the Rotary Club members immersed themselves in the aviation world, gaining valuable insights into how their tax dollars are being allocated for the betterment of the community.
Dale Cook, President of the Rotary Club, expressed his enthusiasm, saying, “To bring, you know, various professionals and others here to show them hands-on what that’s all about, where our tax dollars are going, how they’re being spent, and how that impacts our area economically, I think is a great thing.”
The $1.2 million project includes state-of-the-art features such as in-floor heating, a modern boardroom, and ample upper-level storage. It’s an investment that goes beyond the immediate present, considering the airport’s pivotal role in local tourism and employment, facilitated by daily commercial flights connecting Kingsford to Minneapolis and Detroit.
The grounds currently have 2 runways, with runway 119 reserved for larger machines, and runway 1331 designated for the slower rides. Aviation experts also say the runway is selected based on the wind, and boast that Ford Airport sees the best weather the U.P. has to offer.
County Commissioner Joe Stevens discussed the critical role played by the federal government’s essential air service, stating, “Without the essential air service from the federal government, I don’t think we would be doing commercial flights. So it’s essential that we keep our congressmen and our senators on board with the essential air service, because it serves the rural community.”
But it’s not just about today; it’s about the future. The airport’s recent advancements are all part of a grand vision to create better opportunities for the youth. Programs like the ‘MOSQUITO,’ – a build project in the form of a mini-helicopter that engages industrial arts students at the Tech Center – are set to benefit from the airport’s growth.
Stevens elaborated, “There’s huge demand for airline pilots and mechanics. We’re trying to encourage the local youth to get involved. And like we talked about the helicopter, putting the helicopter together. It’s enthusiasm for the future. If we can get a few kids to even think, and go into aviation or mechanics or pilots, that not only gives them a great career, but it helps the shortage we have in America for all that stuff.”
Cook reflected on the tour, saying, “I think the greatest thing we got out of it was just awareness of what we have here in Dickinson County, and Kingsford specifically. Such a hub of activity here that I think a lot of people don’t realize.”
With the hangar already paid off, the rental income generated contributes to the county’s coffers, earmarked for future progress. The next hangar is on track to be completed by late May 2024, with the eagerly anticipated new terminal expected to grace the airport within the next 2-3 years. The horizon looks promising for Kingsford’s Ford Airport, a beacon of progress for the community and a launchpad for future generations to advance their aviation skills.
Anyone interested in leasing space, buying or renting a plane at the airport can contact the airport manager, Tim Howen.
For more information about the Ford Airport, visit: