One of the host airports of the annual Iowa Aviation Conference to be held April 25-26, 2012 at the West Des Moines Sheraton Inn, is Ankeny Regional Airport, established in 1993 to accommodate the growing demand of general aviation in the Des Moines metropolitan area.
Business and community leaders convened in the late 1980s to create a vision for an airport in the northeast part of Polk County. They saw a need to serve businesses that relied on easy access to Des Moines to complement Des Moines International Airport.
A partnership was crafted between the cities of Bondurant, Altoona and Ankeny, and Polk County. The early leadership of the Polk County Aviation Authority (PCAA) and elected officials faced the dual challenges of building and financing an airport from scratch and constructing a system for governing it. These leaders used their relationships and vision to identify a location for the airport and to develop a plan to build it. The airport’s proximity to the Metro North Business Park lent credibility to the vision for a business airport.
The Polk County Aviation Authority, comprised of representatives from each entity, was formed in 1989 to manage the affairs of the airport.
The airport has filled the needs identified early in its history. In 2011, the airport had 48,600 general aviation aircraft operations, an average of 133 per day. There is a strong use of the airport by area businesses for meetings and parts delivery. Charter services are also popular, serving over 500,000 people in the metropolitan area. General aviation use is high, aided by the significant aircraft storage space at the airport. There is a waiting list of 20 people for hangar space.
Ankeny Regional Airport covers an area of 550 acres at an elevation of 910 feet MSL. There are two concrete paved runways. The primary runway (18/36) is 5,500 feet long and 100 feet wide and has an Instrument Landing System. The crosswind runway (4/22) is 3,855 long and 75 feet wide. The airport has storage for 115 aircraft.
The Iowa National Guard and the Iowa State Highway Patrol have operations at the airport. The Iowa Aviation Heritage Museum is active in restoring aircraft and preserving aviation history at the airport, as well.
Exec1 Aviation is the fixed base operator at Ankeny, providing air charter services and aircraft refueling. Exec1 Aviation provides flight training for Des Moines Area Community College. Iowa Helicopter is also based at Ankeny Regional Airport.
Plans are to expand the use of Runway 4/22 by relocating the Runway Protection Zone threshold to the northeast, providing pilots full use of the runway. There are also plans to create a South Terminal Area to serve as a location for corporate flight departments, institutional users, and business users.
John Pighetti, project manager of John Deere Des Moines Works, chairs the seven-member Polk County Aviation Authority.