Jonesboro Municipal Airport
The Jonesboro Municipal Airport is located three miles east of the Jonesboro (Craighead County) central business district in the northeastern part of Arkansas. It is a mixed-use airport, with the overwhelming majority of usage coming from general aviation. In 2015, it provided 284 jobs in the Jonesboro area and had a local economic impact of over $40 million.
In January 1934, the Civil Works Administration (CWA) granted $13,000 to the city of Jonesboro to build an airport near the community of Nettleton (Craighead County). Originally covering 190 acres, the airport was little more than a dirt runway by 1935, due to disputes over the leasing of the land. The board of City Water and Light voted in April 1935 to buy and manage the airport, and work resumed the following month. In October 1942, Senator Hattie Caraway and Congressman E. C. “Took” Gathings persuaded the Civil Aeronautics Board to allocate almost $700,000 for the building of an airport that could be used for civilian and military purposes, though the military did not utilize the facilities much during World War II. The first commercial flight, by Ozark Airlines, took place on July 18, 1951. However, commercial service dropped in 1954 and did not resume until the 1960s with Trans Texas Airways. A new terminal was constructed in 1963, followed by a new hangar in 1965. The decade closed with a new runway, a new parking ramp, and the transfer of the Federal Aeronautics Administration (FAA) Flight Service Station from Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County) to Jonesboro.
The Jonesboro Municipal Airport has two runways. The primary runway is 6,200 feet, and the crosswind runway is 4,000 feet; the airport covers an overall area of 1,000 acres. In 2015, there were 117 aircraft based at the airport, and the airport ran almost 45,000 flight operations a year.
Air Choice One provides up to three daily flights on nine passenger Cessna 208 Caravan and Cessna 208EX Grand Caravan aircraft to St. Louis, Missouri. Departures are early morning, mid-day, and afternoon from Jonesboro; flights arrive at mid-day, late afternoon, and evening. These flights were partially subsidized through the Essential Air Service (EAS), which provides federal funds to help small and remote cities gain commercial airline service.
One rental car company at the airport, Hertz, provides ground transportation for arriving passengers. Taxis are also available for hire.
Previously, commercial flights were operated by various commercial carriers, including SeaPort Airlines, as well as Air Midwest. Former destinations served by commercial aircraft include El Dorado (Union County) and Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas.
Since 2000, there have been two crashes at Jonesboro Municipal Airport. Both were private aircraft, and there were no casualties. In the June 2015 accident, a father and son crash-landed in a business parking lot near the airport. The two were flying from Jonesboro to Stillwater, Oklahoma. The engine in the single-engine place had died soon after takeoff, and the pilot managed to land the plane in the parking lot, only to have the wing clip a parking sign and detach from the aircraft. Both passengers walked away from the crash landing.
In 2015, there was discussion about lengthening the main runway, as the longer runways would be able to accommodate college sports teams, specifically opponents for Arkansas State University’s football team. Reports show multiple potential teams refusing to play Arkansas State University in the city of Jonesboro because the airport did not have sufficient facilities or a long enough runway. (The alternative is to fly into Memphis International Airport and rent multiple charter buses, which is costly.) Increased corporate traffic into Jonesboro Municipal Airport has also prompted the discussion to lengthen the runway.
In 2015, the Jonesboro Municipal Airport received a portion of $3 million in federal funds earmarked to airport infrastructure improvements. Such improvements include taxiway lighting, drainage system improvements, fencing, and runway rehabilitation, among other upgrades. The tornado of March 28, 2020, caused significant damage to the airport.
For additional information:
Boles, Keith J. “Jonesboro City Water and Light and the Jonesboro Airport.” Craighead County Historical Quarterly 26 (Winter 1987–88): 9–18.
Jonesboro Municipal Airport. City of Jonesboro. http://www.jonesboro.org/185/Jonesboro-Municipal-Airport (accessed September 17, 2020).
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