February | 2021
Gunn reappointed to Salina Airport Authority board; Roberg succeeds Vancil
Tim Unruh
February 2021

Number of special times were reminisced last week by Troy Vancil and Kristin Gunn, scanning their service on the Salina Airport Authority board.
A newcomer to the board, Tod Roberg, expressed eagerness to join in these exciting times.
Changes in the lineup occurred Monday, Feb. 22. when the Salina city commission reappointed Gunn to a second three-year term and appointed Roberg to succeed Vancil. Vancil’ s last meeting was Feb. 17 and Roberg’s first meeting is March 10.
Serving for nine of the past 13 years, Vancil pointed to several highlights, among them the settlement with the United States that funds the cleanup of the former Schilling Air Force Base environmental contamination, the Schwan’s 400,000 square foot plant expansion that will add over 225 new jobs, and the addition of another job producer in 1Vision Aviation, to the Salina Airport and Airport Industrial Center.
“When I first came (2008), we were just starting the legal process of the cleanup. To see that come around and resolved is the most fulfilling,” said Vancil, the owner of Boulder Polishing, a concrete flooring contractor.
“I’ve seen so much economic development happen in the last three years,” he said. “I drive by 1Vision (at the Big Bertha hangar) and there are three times as many cars out there as there was back in October.”
The Schilling clean-up project is what drove Gunn, a retired chemistry and biology teacher at Salina Central High School, and a former Salina city commissioner, to seek an airport authority board position three years ago.
“Remediation of groundwater contamination at the former Schilling Air Force Base is very important. It has been a rewarding experience to be a member of the team that has kept this long-awaited project on track.”
Gunn appreciates the partnership with United Airlines that has made a huge difference in providing comfortable and consistent travel to Denver and Chicago, as well as convenient connections east and west. “Obviously air travel decreased in 2020, but United is committed to providing service as the demand returns.”
The educator lauded Kansas State University Polytechnic and Salina Area Technical College contributions to Salina’s recent success.
“(K-State) is a respected leader in providing training for pilots and unmanned aircraft,” she said. “Salina Technical College is another great partner. The institution is well aware of the education and employment training needed for future work force and is committed to providing the programs to prepare students to fill a number of employment opportunities. There is so much going on. We’ve been very busy.”

Gunn mentioned the CARES Act funding that is being used for infrastructure and equipment improvements. Plans are underway to identify future air terminal needs. She also complimented SAA staff on their efforts to make the Schwan’s expansion and 1 Vision projects possible.

As a businessman and aviation enthusiast, Roberg has been involved in much of the activity at the airport and airport industrial center. Roberg is a private pilot with four airplanes housed in hangars at the airport, his daughter, Jill, is a commercial pilot with Republic Airlines, and his son, Russell, is a private pilot.
His company, T&R Construction, has been doing the demolition, mass excavation and site grading for the Schwan’s expansion project.
“There’s a lot of construction projects coming up out there, and a lot of good things going on in Salina,” Roberg said. “It’s good to see Schwan’s making this kind of commitment to our community.”
He also owns American Sand & Gravel and Salina Engine, both local firms.
Added to all the encouraging developments, Vancil and Gunn mentioned the people they’ve been so blessed to associate with over the years, specifically, Tim Rogers, airport authority executive director and his staff members.
“I can’t thank Tim enough for all of the relationships he has developed. He knows everybody and nurtures those relationships. He is always ready to respond to business and grant opportunities, and knows whom to call for advice and support,” Gunn said.
Vancil expressed appreciation for “all the leg work” Rogers and his staff do before issues come to the board.
“I don’t think I’ve asked Tim a question yet that he didn’t have a viable answer for,” Vancil said.
Most cherished, he said, is “the people I’ve gotten to meet and work with. Economic development is a lot of people working together as one team, working toward the same goal.”
“Having jet service in Salina has been a big change, and what a transformation we’ve had in downtown Salina,” he said. “It’s quality of life, to help younger people want to stay here and recruiting people here.”
“A lot of times, people bring certain things to the board. I feel I’ve benefited more than I gave, just from the people I’ve been around and learned from.”
Vancil added that he will always be available to the airport authority, if needed.
Tower Update

February brought a colder than normal spell of weather that caused frozen lines, power disruptions, and for the Salina Air Traffic Control team some chilly days in the tower without running water. Days that we all hope are in the past with warmer weather on the horizon. The volume of traffic, although some days saw very little, has already exceeded the level experienced in January with almost a week of flying left largely due to the Kansas State University students getting some quality airtime with some even on the weekends.

We predominantly use the north south runways with aircraft arriving or departing on Runways 17 or 35 but recently, with a couple of windy days, we have been forced us to use Runways 22 and 30 so aircraft could land into the wind with as little crosswind as possible. This, you may have noticed, as several aircraft may have been seen to cross neighborhoods at lower than normally seen altitudes before. Pilots have the option of using whatever runway provides them the safest means for operating. Salina is very well equipped in that respect by having eight different runway directions to choose from.

Aside from a weather torment here and there, COVID-19, and a couple of oh-by-the-ways this year is off to a great start and we hope that in the not-so-distant future we will be able to offer tower tours again. We still, to this date, operate one controller short. Although it may seem transparent to the overall operation, it does require some ingenuity in scheduling to provide present controllers an opportunity for some down time, which everyone desires on occasion. 

That brings us current on the latest news from the tower. Until the next time -

Be safe, fly often, and drop us a line some time (what we do well – can do better – etc.).

Scott Hillegeist
Air Traffic Manager
Salina (SLN) FCT
Feature Facility

Hangar 506-2
2010 Kneubuhl Ct.

The Salina Airport Authority has available for lease, a 4,900 sq. ft. hangar located at the Salina Regional Airport. Located in a great location on the field as well as easyt access to I-135 & I-70.

Commonly known as Hangar 506-2, this well maintained facility features 4,486 sq. ft. of hangar bay and 414 sq. ft. of office space.

Call the Salina Airport Authority today at 785-827-3914 to schedule a tour, or email shellis@salair.org.
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