Business View Magazine | September 2022

209 BUSINESS VIEW MAGAZINE VOLUME 9, ISSUE 9 aviators wanting to book their aircraft in the hangars. A maintenance facility is also slated to be established. The airport is already home to an aviation painting facility, where the Blackhawk helicopter from the television show ‘Diesel Brothers’ was recently being painted. Hawkeye Helicopters are based at the airfield because the eastern part of Kentucky is rich in natural gas and coal, hence a plethora of gas pipelines. Most of their aircraft are equipped with hi-tech equipment to monitor whether there are any gas leaks along these pipelines. While snow can occur in the region, it’s not a major issue, although the Big Sandy Regional team has fondly named their snowplow Big Red. In the next few years, Cox shares that the airport would like to move towards attracting visitors and transitioning to tourism. He notes, “Trail rides are popular in the surrounding area, and we’ve been thinking of developing accommodation on the field, where individuals can fly in, book a cabin, explore, and then take off home.” Eastern Kentucky’s landscape doesn’t exactly lend itself to the development of large airports, with all three in the area being constructed on reclaimed surface-mine land. But with the shift in the region towards tourism, there’s hope. Looking ahead, Cox says, “I wish young people in Eastern Kentucky would start dreaming more about entering the aviation field. There’s a nationwide shortage of pilots. We need to start training new pilots now.” Eastern Kentucky University has a flight school located in Richmond, Kentucky but while Big Sandy Regional isn’t home to any flight instructors, they do, from time to time, operate out of the airport. Cox hopes to attract a new generation of Eastern Kentucky aviators using the potential at the airfield, acknowledging that others from away see the possibilities. He shares, “We had a Texas pilot land at our airfield who couldn’t get over the beauty of the airport’s location and the length of the runway. At the time of the encounter, Big Sandy Regional airport had just B IG SANDY REGIONAL A I RPORT