Aucoin: Community events showcase St. John Parish’s airport

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, May 2, 2018

In recent years, we have marketed the airport to attract the corporate traveler, as well as the recreational traveler, through a variety of upgrades and events.

In doing so, it has been surprising to learn that a lot of residents did not know there is an airport in Reserve, an airport that has been here since the 1980s. Five years ago, the ownership of the airport was transferred to the Port of South Louisiana by St. John the Baptist Parish.

In these subsequent years, we have upgraded the runway to 5,150 feet to accompany corporate jets, upgraded the fuel tanks and began offering Jet-A fuel to the mix along with Avgas, remodeled the terminal building to include a pilot’s lounge, a conference room and other amenities, and, we just recently completed a 6,500 sq. ft. transient hangar.

What’s next! In the planning stages is a new set of t-hangars to accommodate the need for more private hangar space. Some pilots have to base their aircraft in Mississippi due to the lack of available hangars in south Louisiana, which is why our waiting list for t-hangar rental keeps growing.

Catering to general aviation, we have hosted several fly-ins in the past year in which we involved various community organizations. Some of the fly-ins included Pilots N Paws, Pilots for Patients, Andouille Fly-In in conjunction with the Andouille Festival, and other events to increase traffic to our airport.

Guys Achieving Goals, a non-profit organization formed last year, planned the first annual St. John Parish Aviation Awareness Day, which took to the skies with hundreds of school-aged children in order to pique their interest in an aviation career. This event will take place again this year on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It was a huge success last year, and we expect that it will be even greater this year.

This past weekend, Port of South Louisiana Executive Regional Airport, along with our local EAA Chapter, hosted the Ford Tri-Motor airplane on its tour across the country.

We would like to acknowledge and thank Mr. Ronnie Lamarque and Lamarque Ford for sponsoring the event.

We were delighted to bring the all-metal, multi-engine commercial airliner here to south Louisiana for the first time. Nicknamed the Tin Goose, this 1929 airliner allowed ticketholders a chance to experience the golden age of air travel. It was amazing to see the excitement in the eyes of the attendees, especially those children who boarded with a grandparent who obviously hopes his love of aviation can influence his offspring.

Several heartwarming moments took place throughout the weekend when patients of St. Jude Children’s Hospital and students from St. Michael’s and their families arrived for their flight, made possible by the sponsor Lamarque Ford, who handed out tickets to 40 patients and their families at these two facilities

The fully restored Tri-Motor can hold up to nine passengers and one co-pilot seat per flight and flew 34 flights in the three-and-a-half days it was here, including a media flight to kick off the event. It was a wonderful attraction to the Parish, as well as the Executive Regional Airport as people from all over the state drove/flew in to see this piece of history.

It was a fun-filled weekend with 321 people taking to the sky. We were happy to see so many members of the community attend.

If you are interested in learning more about the events at our airport, please like our Facebook page, Port of South Louisiana Executive Regional Airport.

Paul Aucoin is executive director of the Port of South Louisiana. For more information, call 985-652-9278.