Cultivating Community: Bellefontaine Municipal Airport


Locals know that the Bellefontaine Municipal Airport exists but no one really understands what happens there on a daily basis. There are lots of misconceptions that it is a money pit for the City of Bellefontaine and that it costs taxpayers lots of money for minimal/no benefit.

Recently I spent a few hours with city officials and management at the airport and discovered that so much more happens at the airport than I could have ever imagined. When you pull up the driveway and park, the first thing you see is that parking lots are full. (Which was a surprise to me!) Walking in the front door the lobby was full, another shocker for me.

Bellefontaine Mayor Ben Stahler explains what the airport does for the community:

I had the chance to catch up with Steve Buchenroth, owner of Midwest Coorperate Air Inc. (MCA), and he filled me in on all the details. MCA is contracted by the City of Bellefontaine to run and operate the airport. Buchenroth explained that the airport sort of runs like a BMV, but only for the air. They train pilots, issue licenses, renewals, and so much more. Over 1,100 pilots are set to be able to fly both privately and commercially through training right here in Bellefontaine. Midwest Corporate Air is one of the only inclusive training facilities that offers a short-term, fully immersed program that lasts only 5-7 days. After testing, pilots leave Bellefontaine with their full licenses, as long as they pass the tests. During their stay, they attend class for upwards of 10 hours a day.

MCA also operates a repair shop for planes and it was full when I was there. Everything from engine repairs to bodywork, to maintenance.

You name it, it’s happening there. Last week, a new kind of plane made its official appearance at Bellefontaine Municipal Airport and pilots will begin training to operate them as well, Cirrus Aircraft. (Click HERE to explore them.) Cirrus Aircraft are the coolest airplanes. These state-of-the-air and technologically advanced aircrafts include a parachute for the entire plane and even some models have an autoland feature should something happen to the pilot. Being one of the only airports to not only service but train for these aircraft is just another reason why the Bellefontaine Regional Airport is on the map. Cirrus is currently one of the most sought-after aircraft in the world. More instruction is required to pilot these types of planes, and the safety features are bar none.

In 2022 Ohio University did an Economic Impact Study on the airport and the results were recently released and highlights include 51 jobs as a result of the airport and it generates 6.3 million dollars a year in local economic output.

In 2022 the Federal Aviation Administration granted the Bellefontaine Municipal Airport $1.8 Million to resurface the runway. The runway is concrete and was done using local vendors and contractors. This project cost zero dollars for taxpayers.

Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, money! This year the Bellefontaine Municipal Airport is projected to bring revenue to the city’s general fund of approximately $350,000. That figure is after costs of around $150,000. Money is generated for the city through things like hanger rental, fuel sales for aircraft, farmland rental, and much more. The city is responsible for the contract with MCA which is less than your average Logan County resident’s income, upkeep of the property and maintenance, and of course utilities. That $350,000 is profit after all the bills are paid at the end of the day.

In recent years, several manufacturing plants in the area received freight through the airport. Honda receives shipments almost daily. Other factories, businesses, and even gas stations fly in customers and management because it is quick and convenient.

Things are always progressing and changing at the airport. Buchenroth tells me that aerobatic, glider, and jet training are set to begin soon. Being one of the only airports that remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic, the reputation of Buchenroth and his staff is what continues to drive the over 1,100 pilots that will be trained at our facility this year.

Buchenroth talks about the big picture of the Bellefontaine Municipal Airport:

So once again, what is perceived as a money pit, is so much more and ends up being one of the things that really helps put Logan County on the map. People from all over the United States are coming to Logan County through the Bellefontaine Municipal Airport and it is just another thing that attracts people and business to our area.

See more information on the Bellefontaine Municipal Airport HERE.