July 23, 2004
Serving Western Deschutes County
Sisters, Oregon

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Sisters Airport runway upgraded
By Jim Fisher

Dave Clemens watches as a crew paves the 3,200-foot Sisters Airport runway. photo by Jim Fisher

The Sisters Airport runway got a facelift on July 23 thanks to a cost-share grant from the Oregon Department of Aviation, according to David Clemens, secretary-treasurer of Eagle Air, Inc. who operates the airport.

A work crew patched cracks and sealed the entire 3,200-foot runway surface with an asphalt-based emulsion. The treatment will extend the life of the runway for about seven years, according to James A. Kirby, Jr. engineer with W & H Pacific of Portland, the contracting firm responsible for inspecting the work for the Department of Aviation.

A four-man crew from Pavement Marking Northwest of Boise, Idaho did the project. After the crew patched the cracks, they spread the emulsion from a truck that made three passes up and down the runway.

Company president Greg Harp stated that the new runway surface would set up in 24 hours and then be ready for use. In the meantime, large yellow cross markings were placed at each of the runway alerting pilots not to land at the airport.

The contracting company has completed similar work at the Bend airport and is scheduled to upgrade runways at McDermitt, Hood River and The Dalles.

Under the cost-share plan, the State of Oregon provided 90 percent of the $80,000 required for the Sisters project and Eagle Air provided 10 percent.

About 200 planes use the airport annually. Business people, tourists and a few Sisters commuters are among pilots that fly in and out of the airport. Clemens said that 15 planes were at the airport during the recent Outdoor Quilt Show weekend.

According to Tillie Wilson and Alice Scott in their book, "That Was Yesterday," a history of Sisters, airplanes have landed in this area as early as the late 1920s or early 1930s. In 1935, George Wakefield bought land now part of the airport and built a runway with help from several Forest Service employees and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) boys.

In the early 1940s, Maurice Hitchcock bought the airfield and ranch across the road from runway (the present-day Conklin Guest House). Hitchcock built a new and longer runway. In 1951, Harold Barclay bought the ranch and the airfield from Hitchcock and built a new, longer runway.

Barclay gave the airport to the State of Oregon in 1967 in cooperation with the Indian Ford Land and Cattle Co. and Brooks Resources Corp. The state operated the airport for 10 years, building the current 3,200-foot runway. At that time, Eagle Air took over operation of the facility with Cliff Clemens as president. Cleared ground for the first two runways are still visible on the site.

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