Sundance Airport improvements take flight

Published: Friday, August 24, 2018 By: Molly M. Fleming Source: The Journal Record

Jerry Hunter can’t build jet hangars fast enough.

Hunter has owned the Sundance Airport, 13000 N. Sara Rd., since 2013. He’s made millions of dollars in improvements in the last five years, and that won’t slow down soon.

On Thursday, he started construction on a $1.2 million, 200-foot-by-200-foot hangar. It’s already expected to be fully occupied with 20 jets.

Until it’s completed, he’s turning away jets whose pilots want to call the airport home. This means he’s turning away money as well because jets use more fuel, and fuel is the airport’s main revenue stream.

Since owning the airport, Hunter has kept his gas prices about $2 below the state average.

“When you’re buying 1,500 gallons of fuel, $2 is a lot,” he said. “People want to be at the airport where the fuel is cheap. The business model is working.”

The new hangar will be open in about five months. He’ll start construction on another hangar of the same size soon.

“The growth has been astronomical,” he said.

Hunter said the building is about the size of a Walmart, but it had to be built without columns. That called for extra-large trusses. It has an 80-foot-by-26-foot door.

The hangar follows Hunter’s other construction projects at the airport, which included constructing 40 hangars and renovating the main office and terminal building. But he has several ideas still to come.

In May 2017, he started the city processes for a condo-hangar development. He has the zoning and the plat approved.

Hunter is selling lots for 146 hangars with living or office space. The first phase is 30 hangars that measure 50 feet-by-60 feet. The living or office space will measure 1,750 square feet.

The development is platted directly east of Sundance Airport. The airport runs parallel to N. Sara Road, stretching down to NW 122nd Street.

He also wants to extend the 5,001-foot runway by 2,000 feet. But the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a pond right where the extension would be. Hunter is still working through the political process, he said.

In the next three years, he’d like to build a new terminal with a restaurant, but that will require a connection to the city’s sewer line. That will cost him about $800,000.

In total, he said he’s invested about $10 million in the last five years.

And people are noticing the changes, said Brian Hancock, president of the Oklahoma Pilots Association. He said he typically goes there for low fuel prices.

He said Hunter is a big supporter of pilots and the association itself. Hunter is also on the state’s Aeronautics Commission.

Hancock wasn’t a Sundance regular before Hunter purchased it, but from what the other pilots have told him, the place is vastly improved.

He said the jet hangars will likely be used by people in the energy industry since it’s doing better. Hunter has made price changes so the hangars compete with Wiley Post Airport, he said.

“When the energy industry is doing well, the private jets are flying,” he said.

Read the story at JournalRecord.com

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