HANNIBAL | Activity may soon be increasing at Hannibal Regional Airport. An assortment of activities intended to attract both pilots and the public to the facility are under consideration by city personnel and members of the airport advisory board.
“Other airports do pancake fly-ins. We would like to start doing something like that,” said Andy Dorian, the city's director of central services, during the January meeting of the airport advisory board.
Karen Burditt, the city's finance director, stressed that the timing of such an event would be critical.
“When we get Oshkosh (traffic) coming in and landing here, plan something then,” she said.
Dick Rupp, a member of the airport board, said efforts to attract visitors bound for the annual major air show in Oshkosh, Wis., should be coordinated with Hannibal tourism.
“Something that Gail (Bryant, director of the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau) might consider is have some incentives to bring these people back (after the Oshkosh airshow),” he said.
Corey Mehaffy, an airport board member, proposed Hannibal as a stopping point for air travelers bound for Wisconsin and after the airshow as they wing their way back home.
“Make it a two-day affair both ways, coming in and going back,” he said.
An effort could soon begin to take shape to attract more than air travelers to Hannibal's airport.
“At some point in time we would like to do something with economic development and the chamber (of commerce) out here as well,” Dorian said. “There are lots of things we could do.”
Burditt suggested extending an invitation to the Marion County Commission to stage one of its weekly meetings at the airport, or to simply tour the facility.
Hosting events aimed at attracting the general public to the airport can be a challenge, according to Dorian.
“If it is a balloon thing or something like that, our insurance won't cover it. That's when we have to get outside liability insurance,” Dorian said. “It's whatever we as a city think is (financially) palatable. What risk would we like to take on?”
The demands of insurance carriers was a point of frustration.
“We are just trying to think of ways to bring the airport a little more to the surface. When we get talking about what may be we hit this brick wall of insurance,” Rupp said. “I know insurance drives business today, but I think the requirements of insurance are costing us a lot of tourism and a lot of money.”
“There are a lot of events across the country where people do fly-ins, people do balloon events, people do all these things. They are occurring and are not bankrupting people,” said Greg Baugher, an airport board member,who recommended looking into securing supplemental insurance to cover events that the city's insurance carrier will not.