Greenwood Municipal Airport

| Joyce Long

When Mayor Mark Myers mentions the Greenwood Municipal Airport, he can’t help but smile. With its recent refinancing, debt reduction, and increased revenue, the airport can now contribute $100,000 toward the city’s budget in 2013. “One of the great turnaround stories for Greenwood this year is the revitalization of our municipal airport. Its geographic advantages are unmatched and cannot be duplicated by any other community.”

Greenwood Municipal Airport manager Ralph Hill.

Ralph Hill agrees wholeheartedly: “It’s one of the few airports where both big and small aircraft co-exist in a mutually beneficial way.” As the city’s airport manager, Ralph fosters its mission of being safe, compliant, hospitable, progressive, and profitable.

Yearly traffic estimated at 30,000 – including both turbine and piston-powered planes – necessitates safety precautions and exemplary communication among pilots. Lengthening the runway 100 feet has helped not only safety but in increasing opportunities for larger aircraft to land. Ralph notes many larger corporate planes have policies that prevent them from landing on runways shorter than 5,000 feet. “If we want to attract the turbine traffic, they have to know that it’s a good, safe place for them to come in.” Grooving the runway also helps landing during inclement weather. This process creates full side cuts across the runway width to prevent water pooling and aircraft from hydroplaning.

Airport staff, now employed by Greenwood, view compliancy vital to safety. Procedure must align with standards from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), Department of Homeland Security, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and the city.

Planes in Hanger

Greenwood’s airport is unique in that it recently purchased an office complex to house NCG Corporation, an aviation engineering company with 14 employees. Their contract provides an on-field engineering company, rare for most airports, but one that expedites maintenance and improvements. By December, 2013, three corporate-sized hangars will be completed, expanding capacity for the airport’s growing turbine traffic.

During the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis, 30 jets were on the ground at the airport, facilitated by 38 volunteers. Many are affiliated with the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), which promotes student interest in mathematics and science through aviation. In 2012, EAA flew over 200 kids, including Young Eagles along with Boy/Girl Scouts. It will host flights for the public in the Ford Tri-Motor June 6-8. Also active as airport volunteers are its flight school students.

Hospitality is key to a successful municipal airport. Ralph explains how that atmosphere is created. “We don’t let the phone ring more than three times. Our reservation form is concise. We provide golf carts for baggage and umbrellas if it’s raining. Marshaling visitors onto the ramp so they know where to park provides extra assistance.”

The airport terminal includes the amenities that pilots rely upon.

Pilots express appreciation by posting comments on, providing significant word-of-mouth marketing for those who consider landing at Greenwood. Airport amenities like pilot supplies and lounge, weather briefing/flight-planning kiosk, free wireless, courtesy, crew, and rental cars also invite return business.

“Whether they’re in a little airplane or a big airplane, we want to treat them very well because we want them to have a good impression of Indianapolis, Greenwood, and the Center Grove area.”

A jet refuels during a stop at the Greenwood Municipal Airport.

Ralph notes potential businesses frequently assess Greenwood’s airport. Recently, one new business developer explained he would not have considered this location without a healthy airport. Ralph recognizes “the importance of the airport in being an economic driver for the entire area. The city’s administration has become very active in promoting and supporting this important asset.”

With three soon-to-be constructed mid-field hangars and a brand new full-motion flight simulator, Greenwood Municipal Airport’s future promises much more than smiles.

Joyce Long, Greenwood Middle School language arts teacher from 1992-2000, has called Center Grove home for the past 25 years. Currently Joyce works as the communications coordinator for Center for Global Impact and is passionate about engaging people to empower the poor.

Comments 1

  1. Brad Miller says:

    What a great asset the airport is to the entire region. I have know Ralph for 40 years and he always has been passionate, professional and productive in everything he invests in. The turnaround at Greenwood Airport is no surprise to me and I for one look for great things to come as I believe that the health of the airport is a true barometer of the health of our community going forward. Way To Go Ralph and Way To Go Greenwood city leadership for raising the bar of our community by looking up to the skies.

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