Fairmont Municipal Airport: A Jewel in Martin County
Fairmont Municipal Airport, located in Fairmont, Minnesota, is an integral part of the community. With approximately 10,000 operations annually, which include take-offs and landings, this airport serves as a vital transportation hub for both business and recreational purposes. Lee Steinkamp has been managing the airport for nearly a decade, overseeing its operations and maintenance.
As the only airport in Martin County, Fairmont Municipal Airport plays a crucial role in connecting the local community with neighboring towns and cities. While Blue Earth, Jackson, Estherville, and St. James also have their own airports, Fairmont’s airport stands out in terms of size and facilities. Comparable airports can only be found in Worthington or Albert Lea.
The airport has a rich history, dating back to the 1920s. It has been located on Blue Earth Avenue since the early 1950s. The current airport building, which includes a baggage terminal, was constructed in 1985 to cater to passenger needs. In the past, there was even an airline service operating from the late 1950s to the 1990s, with routes connecting Minneapolis, Mankato, Fairmont, Worthington, and Sioux Falls. Although the airport’s purpose has evolved over time, it continues to serve as an economic driver for the local and surrounding communities.
Maintenance of the airport is necessary to ensure it meets regulatory standards and remains visually appealing. In 2015, an infrastructure report identified several issues with the terminal’s HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system and exterior. Over time, these problems have been addressed, including replacing the sidewalk to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and updating all lighting fixtures to energy-efficient LED lights. Despite ongoing renovations, budget constraints have caused some building maintenance work, such as replacing carpets and updating interiors, to be postponed.
To enhance its functionality and maintain safety standards, periodic updates and assessments are crucial. The airport is currently undergoing an airport layout plan update, which is required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The update, conducted by KLJ Engineering, an aviation planning and construction firm, will help determine the airport’s future development and expansion plans.
The airport’s importance goes beyond transportation. It serves as a home base for local businesses that own planes and require quick travel for business purposes. Companies like Kahler Automation take advantage of the airport’s facilities, allowing them to transport equipment and employees to destinations around the Midwest efficiently. Additionally, the airport provides a courtesy car for visitors to explore Fairmont and local car dealerships offer rental cars.
With 33 planes currently housed at the airport, the facility remains active throughout the year. The airport’s two runways, one over a mile long and the other 3,300 feet long, facilitate a range of operations. From banking and manufacturing to sales and healthcare, various business sectors have benefited from the airport’s accessibility and convenience.
While the airport primarily serves the local community, it also attracts visitors through events like the Lion Club Fly-In Breakfast. During this annual event, several hundred people gather at the airport, providing exposure and showcasing the airport’s significance. Fairmont High School’s Principle of Flight class has also visited the airport, giving students the opportunity to learn more about aviation and airport operations.
Fairmont Municipal Airport remains a valuable asset to the community, both economically and socially. As the airport continues to improve its facilities and meet regulatory standards, it ensures the smooth operation of air travel for residents, businesses, and visitors alike.