Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Why is the Jackson airport in Rankin County?

How did the Jackson airport come to Rankin County?  JJ is providing a history lesson on the airport this week since it is the topic of a brewing fight in the legislature.  The city determined it needed an airport since Hawkins Field could not handle commercial or military jet aircraft.  Baker Engineers produced a site analysis in 1956 for the Jackson Airport Commission.  Baker analyzed six possible sites for the construction of a new airport.  Engineer Michael Baker stated there were several factors considered in the site analysis:

  • Suitable topography for the grading and draining of a strip 2 1/2 miles long. 
  • Suitable topographic conditions to handle 1:50 glide angle approach zones. 
  • Areas relatively free of residences 
  • Areas free of obstruction to aviation
  • Easy access via ground transportation. 
 He said the best wind coverage was utilized by a NNW orientation of the runway.   Seven sites were considered: Bruce Campbell (Madison), John Bell Williams Airport (Hinds), Site A (Rankin), Site B (Madison), Site C (Hinds), Site D (Hinds & Madison)

The report disqualifies Site "B".  It was nine miles north of downtown Jackson and one mile west of U.S. Hwy. 51.  However, Baker states the southern approach zone would "prohibit the northeastern growth of Jackson.  The extended approach would include Tougaloo, power lines, and several towers.   Site "D" was disqualified for the same reasons.  It was 8 miles north of Jackson and two miles to the east of U.S. Hwy. 49.   

John Bell Williams Airport in Raymond was deemed to be too far from downtown Jackson. The CAA recommended that the new airport be have a transportation time of less than 25 minutes to downtown Jackson.   JBW scored well on the other factors but the report concluded that they were not enough to overcome the distance factor.  The report estimated the distance and travel times from the downtown post office to each site to be:

Hawkins Field: 4.5 miles, 11 minutes
Site "A": 7.1 miles, 13 minutes
Bruce Campbell Field: 13.1 miles, 20 minutes
John Bell Williams Airport: 15.4 miles, 28 minutes
Site C: 10.4 miles, 19 minutes.

 The airport would require a runway of 8,500 feet.  The military glide angle began at 1,000 from the end of the runway.  Baker analyzed the remaining sites:

Site "A": Six miles east of Jackson and two miles north of U.S. Hwy. 80.  Area is undeveloped and 50% is scrub timber.  The elevation was high enough "to prevent flooding".   The highway already had four lanes although the report states access would improve if a new bridge over the Pearl River was built.  There were no obstructions to the north and south of the proposed runway. The project would require 1,090 acres.  The land cost was only $250 per acre and $3,000 per home.

Bruce Campbell Airport: Thirteen miles north of downtown Jackson and one mile east of U.S. Hwy. 51.  The highway had four lanes.   The cost was estimated to be $400 per acre and $5,000 per home.  The site was relatively flat and approaches were unobstructed.    The site would require 1,160 acres.

Site "C": 9 miles north of Jackson and two miles northeast of Clinton.  It has access to the four lane roads of Clinton Boulevard and U.S. Hwy. 80.  The site would require 1,115 acres. The cost was estimated to be $300 per acre and $3,000 per residence.   However, part of the land was 16th Section and the cost was unknown.

Hawkins Field: There were "dense residential areas to the south and east of the field".  The orientation to take advantage of prevailing winds should be NNW-SSE.  That pattern just happened to place the approach zones over the neighborhoods.  The 5,383 runway requires an extension of 3,117 feet.  It would require the relocation of Hwy. 49 and cause other problems (see p.19 below).   The 140 acres to be acquired would cost $2,000 per acre.  Major drainage structures would have to be built for Town Creek. The commission would have to purchase both another 49 acres at a cost of $1,200 per acre and another 34 acres that costs $17,500. 

The report provided cost estimates for each site (p.24):

Site "A" (Current airport): $5,158,220
Bruce Campbell Airport: $4.934,227
Site "C": $5,103,026
Hawkins Field: $4,007,854
Hawkins Field, new runway: $4,241,770

Gotten enough data yet? Stay tuned. The report also provided the results of a survey of 1,035 passengers.  21% were from Jackson.   See page 29 of the documents posted below.  They are copies of the original documents produced in 1956.


Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff KF, keep it up!

KUDOS Kingfish said...

Jackson Jambalaya: A website of news, commentary, culture, history & jackassery in the Jackson, Mississippi area.

Anonymous said...

I saw an article in the Northside Sun that talked about another MDA tourism "cultural retail destination" being developed on airport property? It sounded very similar to the proposed Costco development in Ridgeland that has caused such heart burn. What the heck is going on here? If memory serves, the Ridgeland project would be reimbursing almost $30 million to developers in tax dollars; the airport project almost $50 million. That's a total of $80 million! Good grief! Does this have anything to do with why the state wanted to take over the airport? Does the state really have the money to give away $80 million? Why isn't any one else reporting on this proposed development that has totally excluded the city of Jackson in the deal even though we own the land? SO MANY QUESTONS AND SO FEW ANSWERS!!!!please help!

Anonymous said...

Thanks again, KF.

Am I reading correctly that Site A (now JAN) was the most expensive option?

Anonymous said...

4:44pm...they arent giving the developers $80 million. do you have any idea how this works? what is any percentage of 0? If the tax incentives aren't there, the development doesn't get built. If the development gets built, the gov gets a percentage of something that didn't exist before and wouldn't exist if they didn't give the tax breaks. The coffers will ultimately, greatly benefit. It isn't rocket science.

Anonymous said...

4:44....why in the hell do you think the Rankin people want control of the airport authority? Such projects involve millions of dollars in contracts (engineers, lawyers, accountants, consultants, etc). We can't have that going to people in Jackson! We gotta pay our own!

Anonymous said...

Just keep reminding your self, follow the money.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely understand how it works and so does the legislature, who decided to terminate this give away program by no longer allowing the MDA to accept applications after June 30, 2014. Do you think maybe they saw that the cost outweighed the benefit the taxpayers would receive? If it's such a great deal, why did both republicans and democrats vote to terminate it after only one year? It was already slated to sunset in 2017. If it is such a money maker for the state, what was the rush to end it? Sometimes things that look good on paper simply don't prove to be so in real life and this is a perfect example.

Regardless, even if you are right, the law-making branch of our state government has voted to stop this program. My question is, why is the MDA even considering jumping through all the required hoops to pull this project off (COMPLETLEY DIFFERENT location on application; approved application PRIOR to city approval even though city approval is a requirement, etc. etc, etc.). It is NOT the job of the hired employees at MDA to look for ways to circumvent the laws passed by our ELECTED officials, who voted to terminate this give away program. If the application is not correct then the development doesn't happen; you don't get to change it after the fact!

Anonymous said...

5:23's got it right. Rankin County is in control of Mississippi Government.

Anonymous said...

Tuesday night survey: Site acquisition in 1956 was estimated to be $5.1MM (approx. $45MM in today's dollars). In 1956, it took 28 pages to report the crucial data in the study of FIVE possible sites. Question: How many pages would that report have been if the same decision was being made in 2016?

Takin' A Break, Boss... said...

Briarwood Wine and Spirits has a really cool neon sign logo.

Life long Jacksonian, now a refuge in Madison. said...

The first sentence of the introduction is alien to present day Jacksonians. "In preparation of a master airport plan for a "growing city.'" Growing city? What city do you speak of pray tell?

Anonymous said...


Today's study would include an evaluation of wetlands, endangered species, enironmental liability, etc.

Essentially, it would be the same that Warnock did for Madison County last year.

Anonymous said...

@4:47 - No you aren't reading it correctly. There is a price for Hawkins Field then just below it is the price for the runway extension. Comes out to over $8M.

Kingfish said...

There is more to the reports. I'm picking out the parts that are relevant and give you a snapshot of the process back then. There were plenty more reports and papers I could post. There is one going up later today that is pretty interesting and another batch going up tomorrow. However, the environmental reports aren't as thorough as they are now.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this.

Now if you could get an oral report from someone still alive who could put a narrative with these papers. We all know it had nothing to do with money and everything to do with politics to get it where it went.

The Clinton site was used as bait to lure people to Vicksburg to work....economic development and progress....and then nothing.

Kingfish said...

Keep in mind the Rankin site was the closest one to downtown Jackson. It didn't impede growth nor did it have obstructions to the approaches. The cost per home and acre was also the cheapest.

Gene McGee and Mary Hawkins Butler should be kissing the headstones at the graves of these guys who chose Rankin County as the airport would have really affected the growth of those two cities.

Anonymous said...

The first sentence of the introduction is alien to present day Jacksonians. "In preparation of a master airport plan for a "growing city.'" Growing city? What city do you speak of pray tell?

Jackghanistan's population peaked in 1976 primarily the result of annexations. Has been declining ever since.

Anonymous said...

KF at 7:58 AM

Don't be naïve. The land belonged to someone connected politically. There was zero transparency back then and it was all about who was in charge.

Go find someone and the picture will be much different than what is on paper.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting! Do you have maps for us graphically inclined people?

Son of an Old Man said...

The offer still stands from your last "Airport" article Kingfish. If you want an oral history on the Jackson International Airport I can put you in touch with the Project Engineer that was employed by Michael Baker and on the ground while it was being constructed. I've heard those stories almost as many times as the Bilbo for Governor stories.

Kingfish said...

Sure. kingfish1935@gmail.com. Would love to talk to him.

Bear Bryant's Ghost said...

Wrong, 9:21. Transparency back then wasn't the issue it is today. Everybody knew who the governor was and everybody knew the governor owned the land and everybody knew the land was sold by the governor. It just wasn't as all fired important back then and certainly not actionable or newsworthy.

Sorta like football coaches buying mobile homes and tickets for parents and putting players in cars. Typical and routine.

Anonymous said...

Damn there are some stupid people here. Ross Barnett wasn't the Governor until the 1959 election This study was done in 1956 if I remember reading it correctly and at that time Barnett was a little ole' country lawyer in Standing Pine (Leake County). So - don't think his being the Governor had anything to do with their selecting this site. Sorry for having to throw details into all these wonderful theories about corruption but those damn pesky facts do tend to get into the way.

Roll With Ross said...

12:57; Ah, Barnett wasn't governor, actually, until 1960. He was governor when his land was sold to the people who developed the airport. Sorry to clutter up your pesky details with facts. The study and the land acquisition were two different things. But you probably knew that, as pesky as you are about details.

Anonymous said...

12:57 here. Go back and read my comments again. I said 'the 1959 election'. Would mean elected in 1959 and take office in January 1960. The report that recommended placing the airport at this spot was done in 1956 so recommending the land purchase had nothing to do with Barnett being Governor as the idiot said earlier.

And yes - pesky little details do get in the way of a good story. Sorry but I like history and facts better than bitchy novels.

2016 Hottest Reporter Poll

Suscribe to latest on JJ.

Recent Comments

Search Jackson Jambalaya

Subscribe to JJ's Youtube channel

Who is the hottest reporter?


Who is the Hottest Reporter in Jackson?

Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS