Akron Mayor Committed To Saving and Growing Muni Airport

The 1923 Akron Fulton Municipal Airport terminal, now the Theken Terminal [Urycki / ideastream]
The 1923 Akron Fulton Municipal Airport terminal, now the Theken Terminal [Urycki / ideastream]
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Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan has been looking to sell off some city-owned assets that are not needed, but Friday he doubled-down on saving the Akron Fulton Municipal Airport. 

Horrigan says he and the Airport Advisory Board went to the director of the Akron-Canton Airport to see what could be done with their little municipal field.

“The first thing out of his mouth is, ‘Don’t ever get rid of the runway. 6,000 feet and you can never replace it,’” said Horrigan.

 The former Goodyear airdock in the distance is now owned by Lockheed Martin

The former Goodyear airdock in the distance is now owned by Lockheed Martin (Urycki/ideastream)

Instead, Akron and Summit County are ramping up a marketing effort for the airport they are now calling AKR, Akron’s Executive Airport.

Businessman and head of the advisory board, Phil Maynard, says it’s overdue to be developed.  

“A key to this today was the city’s commitment that it is going to be an airport. For a while we really didn’t know,” Maynard said.  

This airport is where the Rolling Stones parked their plane when performing in Akron in 1972. And Thursday night it was from here that broadcaster Al Michaels departed after calling the Pro Football Hall of Fame game in Canton.

(L to R) Phil Maynard, County Exec Ilene Shapiro, Randy Theken, Mayor Daniel Horrigan, Stark State President Para Jones

 (LtoR) Phil Maynard, Ilene Shapiro, Randy Theken, Daniel Horrigan, and Para Jones. (Urycki/ideastream)

The huge black blimp airdock that Goodyear built in 1929 sits at one end of the complex. At the other end is the 1929 art deco terminal that was built to serve dirigible passengers.  

The terminal is now owned by Randy Theken who headquarters his medical device company there where planes can pull almost up to the door. He says it was a tool to get customers to Akron that otherwise would never have been able to come. 

“Out of the hundreds of surgeons and distributors that we brought in it was a turning point for a small company like ours. Think about this: we’re competing against the Johnson & Johnsons of the world - the multi-billion dollar companies,” Theken said.   

About 100 acres of land are available now and another 100 could open up if officials are able to close the little-used runway 1-9.  

Stark State College announced it’s the first to move in, taking 7 acres to build its training facility for commercial driver’s licenses. Presiddent Para Jones says he has heard from business owners who can’t get products to market because they lack workers with CDLs.  

“We really see it as critical to the economy,” said Jones, “not just of the region but to the state and the nation.”

Among the upgrades planned for the airport, Mayor Horrigan says the main runway will be resurfaced sometime in 2020.

On Monday crews cut down the last of some trees that were blocking the flight path on the approach to the airport. With those obstacles removed, says Maynard, nighttime flights will resume next week.

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