Denton Enterprise Airport – The north Texas airport of choice

written by BVM June 4, 2019

Denton Enterprise Airport

The north Texas airport of choice

 

Business View Magazine interviews Scott Gray, Manager of the Denton Enterprise Airport, as part of our series on regional American airports.

Denton Enterprise Airport, once known as Denton Airport and Denton Municipal Airport, is a city-owned, public-use airport located four miles west of the central business district of Denton, a city in Denton County, in northern Texas. It was established as Denton Field in 1942, and used during 1943–44 by the United States Army Air Forces as a contract glider training airfield. “It was done in conjunction with the Civil Aeronautics Authority,” says Airport Manager, Scott Gray. “They flew Waco gliders out here that were towed into the sky by C-47s.”

Denton Field was deactivated in 1944, declared surplus, and turned over to the Army Corps of Engineers on September 30, 1945. It was eventually discharged to the War Assets Administration (WAA), which sold it to the city in 1946. At the time, it covered 523 acres and had one, city-paved runway, measuring 4,150 feet. “It stayed that way for many years, and then, during the ‘80s and ‘90s, the city starting doing more major improvements,” Gray notes.

Today, Denton Enterprise Airport sits on 929 acres and has one asphalt paved runway, measuring 7,002 X 150 feet. It is home to a renowned flight school, an FBOs, medical helicopter firm, several air charter companies, three aircraft sellers, six maintenance and avionic shops, seven hangar rental outfits, and 340 general aviation aircraft, making it the 8th busiest airport in Texas.

It is also home to the Hangar 10 Flying Museum, which boasts four vintage planes: a Lockheed 10A plane, which has been owned by several individuals, including child movie star, Margaret O’Brien; the Stagger Wing, built by Beech Aircraft, which was used mainly for VIP’s, admirals, and dignitaries; the PT-22, used by the Army Air Corps, primarily, as a trainer for rookie pilots; and the small, sporty-looking Piper L-4, which was used during World War II as a reconnaissance plane.

These days, business is good at Denton, the airport of choice in north Texas. It is operationally self-sufficient and, according to Gray, there’s a waiting list for hangars and just about everything else. “For the most part, right now, everybody is full,” he states. It’s a situation that begs for more growth and development. “We have about seven acres of land left available for development and we’re talking to people on a fairly regular basis to construct new hangars – whether for their own corporate airplanes or to lease out space.”

To accommodate that growth, the Airport is also in the process of completing its new parallel runway. “We’re halfway through construction,” Gray reports. “We have one runway, now – 7,002 feet by 150 feet; ILS; 100,000 pounds; can pretty much take any corporate airplane. Our new runway is 5,000 feet by 75 feet; a 30,000 pound runway to provide a secondary location for training, to separate traffic, and to help minimize any delays for arrivals and departures. That facility will be constructed and finished in September of this year. Shortly after that is done, we will be putting the runway lighting system on it, so, by the end of the year, we should have a fully-functional, second runway with GPS approaches. It’s a $6.4 million project.”

Denton is also pursuing Part 139 certification from the FAA, which will allow it to accommodate unscheduled aircraft greater than 30 seats. “We have two universities here in town, the University of North Texas, and Texas Woman’s University” says Gray. “So their sports teams and competitors will then be able to operate out of here. We anticipate that being completed about this time, next year – it’s about a nine-to-twelve-month process and we’re just getting started on that.”

Further afield is the possibility of opening up even more land for development. Gray says it would depend on a possible freeway construction project, potentially sited just west of the Airport’s new parallel runway. “We only have seven acres, now – that will give us 150 acres to start looking into accommodating more of that demand – whether T-hangars, corporate hangars, whatever it might be.”

Meanwhile, Gray says that Denton will continue to be an advantageous choice for both private and corporate aircraft, in what always seems to be a friendly, yet, still, competitive, arena. “There’s always a neighbor that a pilot can choose for a variety of reasons,” he admits. “We’re on the north side of the metroplex here in Dallas, so our competitors are McKinney National Airport, Meacham International Airport, and Alliance Airport, which is just down the road, about 15 minutes from us. And there’s Addison, here in town. They’re all corporate and GA airports, and that’s what we are, as well. In some cases they have advantages over us. For example, Addison and McKinney are closer to downtown Dallas; Meacham is closer to downtown Ft. Worth. The operators, or the person in the back of the airplane, have a particular place they’re trying to head, so they have an advantage over us because they’re closer to the downtown markets.”

“But we have an advantage: we don’t have as busy an airspace environment because we’re north of the main airports like DFW and Dallas Love Field,” he counters. “We can handle the small, single engine airplanes, all the way to 737s and DC-9s. And we don’t have landing fees – our fee structure seems to be a little more reasonable.” Along with lower fees, Gray adds that Denton is also ideally situated on the cusp of the Greater Dallas/Ft. Worth corporate radius, making it “still close enough to the market that a number of business operators choose us.”

Courting more businesses to come to Denton is the job of its Economic Development Department, the Conventions and Business Bureau, and the Chamber of Commerce. “They are the marketing arm for the city,” and Gray says that the Airport works alongside them – literally. “Immediately adjacent to us is the city’s core industrial development area,” he remarks. “Peterbuilt is here; Target; Tetra Pak; a number of other corporations have either warehouse storage or assembly facilities immediately adjacent to the Airport. And when it comes to locating here – and it may not even be an aviation-related business – the Airport is a key piece of their decision making because they may need to be able to get customers to and from their facility.”

As it stands now, Denton Enterprise Airport already makes a significant economic impact in the local community. “We generate about 1,400 jobs by having the Airport located here,” says Gray. “It generates $46 million in payroll and, roughly, $150 million in goods and services.” And Gray expects the 8th busiest airport in the state to continue on the same path. “Our City Council and the community here are extremely supportive of the Airport,” he says in conclusion. “And we continue to grow to meet the needs of the north Texas area.”

AT A GLANCE

WHO: Denton Enterprise Airport

WHAT: A city-owned, public-use airport

WHERE: Four miles west of Denton, Texas

WEBSITE: www.cityofdenton.com/en-us/government/departments/airport

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