Diana Smith is the manager of the Beatrice Municipal Airport. Since that community is in the direct path of totality and will have one of the longest viewing times, it will be a popular destination for eclipse watchers who are flying in from around the planet.
“We’ve got additional help coming in, even help from Lincoln,” Smith says. “Line personnel will be here to help us, also the Civil Air Patrol. We’re looking at space and are planning to close a runway for any overflow.”
Smith says she’s getting multiple calls daily with inquiries about the airport’s capabilities. Most incoming air traffic will likely arrive the morning of the eclipse, Monday, August 21st, though some planes will fly in the prior weekend for events in the area.
She expects Eclipse Day to be a heavy air traffic day.
“I would say it will probably be the largest that we’ve seen at one time, especially since everybody will be coming in all at once,” Smith says.
Smith says the airport is in contact with pilots from as far away the East and West coasts, including the Los Angeles area where one incoming jet type is coincidentally called Eclipse.
She expects most of the aircraft flying in for the celestial celebration will be single-engine and twin-engine propeller aircraft.
“We’re also planning to make sure that we’ll have enough fuel on hand so that we don’t run out,” she says.
The airport will be using its diagonal runway to park the overflow of aircraft.
The Beatrice Municipal Airport was named Nebraska Airport of the Year for 2016, the second time it’s won the honor. It was the first general aviation airport in Nebraska to be awarded, in 1992.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice