Hazel Burnett, mother of honoree Jim Burnett, takes a pair of tiny scissors from Clinton Mayor Roger Rorie to cut the ribbon at the dedication. (Photos by Ida Keith)
Dense fog and cloudy skies couldn’t dampen the spirits of those who attended the Clinton Municipal Airport Fly-In and open house last Saturday.
An estimated crowd of 200 people attended the event held by the city of Clinton and the Clinton Airport Commission.
“I’d say this was an outstanding success, especially with the kind of weather we woke up to this morning,” said Royce Johnson, a member of the airport commission.
While members of the public enjoyed viewing the roughly one dozen aircraft and the many classic and custom cars on display, the highlight of the day was the dedication of the airport’s new Jim Burnett Business Aviation Terminal building. The building was completed late in the summer and houses meeting facilities, a pilots’ lounge, briefing room and a kitchenette.
Ken Sowers of the airport commission, said the building is an investment in the local economy. “Clinton Municipal Airport was very much in need of a business aviation terminal to receive business passengers and to have a good place for the pilots to lay over during the day,” he said.
The building was funded by a grant from the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics.
Jim Burnett, for whom the building is named, was a longtime resident and lawyer in Clinton. He was named chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board in 1981 and served on the board for 10 years. Burnett died in 2010 from complications of diabetes.
His longtime friend, Gary McDonald, spoke at the dedication. “Jim was a driving force in transportation safety and would have been proud that the terminal was named in his honor,” McDonald said.
After the ceremonial ribbon-cutting by Burnett’s mother, Hazel Burnett, the crowd was invited to enjoy cake and to tour the building. Outside, onlookers watched the only aerial excitement of the day — a demonstration of large-scale model airplanes flown by Mark Norris of Searcy. The Van Buren County Community Band provided music.
The Jim Burnett Business Aviation Terminal is on Airport Road just off Highway 16 East.