Airport drops holiday attraction


Last updated 4/2/2024 at 11:48am

Photo by Bill Bartlett

Sisters Eagle Airport is enhancing its facilities. The owners are focusing on the aviation core of their business.

After conferring with its attorneys and insurance advisor, Sisters Eagle Airport has decided against continuing its annual July 4th event known as Rumble on the Runway. As The Nugget reported earlier this month, the very popular event has grown in size to the point where risk leaves the airport vulnerable.

Last week, Rotary Club of Sisters, Citizens4Community (C4C) and Explore Sisters met in an emergency setting to discuss alternatives for an Independence Day family event of similar appeal and scale. They plan to engage other community organizations to assess the feasibility of pulling off a comparable event over the next three months.

Airport co-owner Julie Benson told The Nugget "This all started out as a celebration of aviation and has grown far beyond that" - referring to the car show, 5K run, and amateur drag racing held during the day-long gathering. "We are in the aviation business, that is our mission, and this is not core to our business."

She added, "We are grateful for all the encouragement and offers to help with the event. Some of the ideas presented would work well at the rodeo grounds. We hope something can be found."

In other airport news, a 10,000 gallon Jet A fuel tank has been installed next to the 10,000 gallon AVGAS tank at the airport. Benny Benson explained how this addition, funded in part by a grant from the Oregon Department of Aviation, would benefit Sisters. The primary benefit is in firefighting.

"Wildland fires are often aided by turbine driven helicopter and fixed wing aircraft that bivouac at Eagle Airport and require Jet A fuel. They have to haul the fuel by tanker truck, a costly and riskier method to keep the planes in the air.

"We can also handle more charter flights into Sisters, bigger planes like (Cessna) King Airs," saying how such flights bring visitors to Sisters for golf, music festivals, and other events. Many in Sisters might be surprised at the number of charters regularly arriving and departing Eagle Airport.

Jet A is a refined kerosene-based, colorless type of fuel that's used in aircraft with turbine engines, including turboprops and jet engines. Jet A is easier to obtain than AVGAS because, during the refining process, jet fuel comes off first. Its simple refining process also makes Jet Fuel much cheaper than AVGAS.

"Jet A is more environmentally friendly," Benny Benson said, pointing to developments in piston driven engines enabling them to run on Jet A. "We will see more planes at our airport in the future needing Jet A."

With the aid of a separate grant, the airport resurfaced and striped the runway and taxiway.

The new box hangar has completed with six bays able to handle a dozen or so planes depending on their size and wing configuration. Previously the airport was limited to 10 T hangars, basically one plane per hangar.

Tenants at the airport are shifting locations on the property to accommodate their growth and the expansion of the Benson's primary business - ESI, a leading national engineering and operations firm for biogas utilization. They are one of Sisters largest employers.

Arriving at the airport is New Moon Aviation, a Madras based aircraft maintenance business expanding to Sisters.

Julie Benson reports that the shuffling of tenants will enable them to restart the flight simulator program in the coming months. This will grow the number of pilots and benefit the Flight Science Program at Sisters High School.


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