East Kansas City Airport

The East Kansas City Airport in Grain Valley is a busy place with a long history. The airport, at 600 Edward Early Kirby, was started in 1956, when 25 people invested $1,000 each for the airport’s start-up costs.

The airport has grown since then to include a 4,000-foot runway and has added hangars recently, bringing the total number to 96.

The airport is unique in several aspects. It’s privately owned and operated by Richard White and his wife, Dionne, while many other area airports receive local or federal subsidies. The airport charges private hangar owners a monthly fee for the use of each hangar.

The airport has undergone several improvements of late, including an upgrade of the fuel system in order to comply with ever-changing regulations and standards of the aircraft industry. The airport offers 24-hour refueling for commercial and private planes. Fuel is a big issue for airports, since fuel prices have increased for airports, just as they have for automobiles. In addition, the upgrade allowed the business to continue selling fuel to LifeFlight, the area’s air ambulance service.

While the airport isn’t the sole supplier of fuel to LifeFlight, they supply them with some fuel, said Scotty Fleener, who was supplying temporary counter help at the airport this past summer. The upgrade also keeps the fuel system safe.

A faulty system could place pilots, passengers or even people on the ground in jeopardy of injury during a crash or other risky situations.

“We’re trying to keep them (fuel prices) somewhat competitive with other airports,” Fleener said.
In addition, the airport has recently undergone repairs to the taxi, ramps and runways in the form of re-sealing.

Like city streets, these amenities wear out over time and need repair. These improvements become ongoing efforts, Fleener said.

The airport continues to be busy, but the number of flights coming and going vary greatly from day to day.

“If you have a nice (weather) day, you might have 30 to 40,” Fleener said. “On a bad weather day, you might not have any.”