CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF
LLANO — The Llano Municipal Airport has made quite a name for itself as a destination for events featuring aircraft fly-ins, aerobatic exhibitions, contests, campouts and more.
The small facility is located 2½ miles north of the city off Texas 16.
Along with hosting events, the site serves as a staging, storage and fueling zone for visitors attending a number of other activities, including rodeos, the annual crawfish open, chuck wagon cook-offs, deer season and football games.
“We have deer hunters that come in, too; vacationers that come in,” airport manager Larry Cook said. “We generate about $6 million every year to help the economy.”
The population of Llano, considered the Deer Capital of Texas, is about 3,200.
“All of this will bring in revenue to the hotels, restaurants, stores and generally helps with the economy,” Cook said.
The Texas Department of Transportation recently awarded the airport $75,000 through the Aviation Facilities Grant Program to upgrade the pavement, including the 4,200-foot runway.
The Llano Municipal Airport, established in 1944, was among 275 community airports eligible for $60 million in funding for planning, construction and maintenance projects.
The last major renovation of the facility was in the 1990s.
Anywhere from 10,000 to 12,000 people each year utilize the airport.
“We need to always keep it updated and in good shape,” Cook said.
Other amenities include a fueling station, hangar storage space, an on-site private mechanic and a sailplane school.
Area communities such as Castell, Cherokee and Kingsland also host private and public events and direct participants to the Llano airport.
Outside of the Llano facility, the two closet municipal airports are in Burnet and Fredericksburg, nearly an hour away.
“This airport is an asset to the city and Llano County also,” Cook said. “In case we have interface wildland fires, big floods and other catastrophes, the airport is the first place that help comes to.”
Aside from the rare disaster, the Llano airport consistently steers a steady stream of visitors in the direction of Llano businesses because of year-round activities.
Events such as the 2014 Hill Country Hammerfest attracted dozens of participants and hundreds of visitors Aug. 29-31.
The event, hosted at the airport for the past 14 years, featured aerobatic competition, maneuver and speed contests as well as exhibitions. Participants came from across the state.
Cook said city attractions connected to the airport location can take credit for more than 1,200 hotel rooms filled each year.
“Marble Falls (35 miles southeast of Llano) is boats. We do aviation,” he said. “What helps us, we’re centrally located and we always ask people what they want.”
For more on the Llano Municipal Airport, call (325) 247-5635 or the city of Llano at (325) 247-4158.