Aviation

Jabara airport open again; hangar and planes damaged

Airplanes suffered damage when a hangar at Jabara Airport collapsed after a strong thunderstorm packing hurricane-force wind gusts and hail the size of golf balls raced through the Wichita metropolitan area early Friday morning, leveling trees and power lines and damaging houses.
Airplanes suffered damage when a hangar at Jabara Airport collapsed after a strong thunderstorm packing hurricane-force wind gusts and hail the size of golf balls raced through the Wichita metropolitan area early Friday morning, leveling trees and power lines and damaging houses. The Wichita Eagle

An overnight storm that brought nearly 100 mile-per-hour winds to Col. James Jabara Airport damaged aircraft and destroyed a hangar there, closing the airport for several hours Friday.

Valerie Wise, the city’s air service development director, said in an e-mail Friday morning that six airplanes were inside the hangar owned by Midwest Corporate Aviation, the fixed-base operator at Jabara.

She said Jabara, a general aviation airport at 3512 N. Webb, reopened about 1 p.m. Friday. Authorities had closed the airport to clean the airfield of debris.

Bob Karslake, Midwest Corporate’s chief operating officer, said the 15,000-square-foot hangar that was leveled was one of two Midwest Corporate properties damaged by the storm. Also damaged was the roof of Midwest Corporate’s main offices and hangars, which total about 35,000 square feet, he said.

“It needs immediate attention to prevent leaks,” Karslake said, pointing to a black object on the aircraft ramp outside the main building, a piece of roofing material from the building.

The hangar that was leveled, which he referred to as Hangar No. 9, sits several hundred yards north of Midwest Corporate’s main building. It was a pile of twisted steel Friday, with at least three aircraft visible in the rubble.

Karslake declined to comment on the airplanes inside the hangar.

Keith Plumb, president and CEO of fractional ownership company Executive AirShare, said in an e-mail that one of them was a Beechcraft Super King Air 350 owned by his company’s fractional customers.

“We have notified the aircraft’s shareowners, and made arrangements to keep them flying,” Plumb said in the e-mail.

A used Super King Air 350 sells for between $2 million and $4 million, according to the Trade-A-Plane website.

One of the airplanes visible in the rubble was a “green” – or newly manufactured and unpainted – airplane with what appeared to be a King Air fuselage.

Textron Aviation, which manufactures Beechcraft King Airs, said in an e-mailed statement that it keeps some of its airplanes at Jabara.

“The company does have several aircraft stored temporarily at Jabara Airport that were impacted by the storm damage,” the statement said.

Karslake was doing what he could late Friday morning to keep Midwest Corporate moving, which wasn’t much because there was no electricity. He stood inside a cold and darkened executive terminal talking with Midwest Corporate employees.

He said once the airport reopened, his company would be able to refuel aircraft. Restoration of electricity could take a couple of days, he said, adding that’s what he was told by Westar Energy.

Karslake said no one from Midwest Corporate was injured during the storm, and Wise said there were no injuries at Jabara.

In his 17 years at Midwest Corporate, Karslake said he has seen a lot of storms and some events that interrupted business. But he has not seen anything like this.

“We’ve had power outages,” he said. “We’ve had debris on runways. We’ve had closures.

“But we haven’t had hangar destruction like we did last night.”

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jsiebenmark.

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