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Marion Airport plays a key role in Marion's growth
by Nancy Grindle Correspondent · November 30th, 2017

The Marion Airport is a unique facility, a public-private hybrid which has been instrumental in helping attract businesses and growth to the area.

It is in an ideal location, next to an industrial park. Last year alone, there were more than 17,000 take-offs and landings.

The runway of the airport belongs to the City of Marion, while the adjacent property belongs to LuxAir Aviation. Cole Norton owns P&N Flight and Charter, which operates from the airport.

Fifty aircrafts are based at the Marion Airport. The majority are owned by a local business.

Norton is General Manager of the Marion Airport and has provided a brief timeline about its history and its future. Here is his information.

History of the

Marion Airport

The Marion Airport was activated with the Iowa DOT in 1966 as a private airport. Over the early years, it was privately owned by multiple entities. This was a unique circumstance, because most cities the size of Marion had developed their own publicly owned airports fairly early.

Jan and Perry Walton began operating the airport in the mid-80s. They ran it until 2012, when Perry passed away from cancer. Jan was left to run it on her own, which she did until 2015. Under the Waltons' ownership, it was one of the few airports in the country that was privately owned but still had public use.

LuxAir Aviation

LuxAir Aviation was started in 2015 by a local family to save the airport for the community when Jan was ready to sell it. Perry had asked the family for their help before he passed.

The runway was sold to the city and LuxAir became owner of the adjacent land. That land is used for hangars, fueling, maintenance and other services typically seen at airports.

It is also typical that private third parties are contracted to manage small airports, so at this time, Norton became the General Manager.

P&N Flight and Charter

Many residents are unaware of one of the valuable entities at the airport, P&N Flight and Charter. Begun in 1981, the company provided a wide variety of services: flight training, charter flights, airplane and helicopter rides, aerial photography/surveying, FAA testing and unmanned aircraft systems.

Mrs. Walton operated P&N Flight and Charter out of the airport until 2016, and then she sold the company to Norton. It still carries on the services, using 14 airplanes and one helicopter.

City of Marion

In light of the fact that the City of Marion owns the runway, the City recently appointed an Airport Committee for the purpose of overseeing capital improvements to the airport and making recommendations to the City Council.

Now and the Near Future

Kevin Bradford of Quincy Recycle spoke with us about his experiences with the Marion Airport. Bradford is the Chief Pilot for Quincy Recycle and routinely used to fly from Quincy, Illinois, to the Eastern Iowa Airport. He had not used the Marion Airport because of its size and the size of the concrete runway.

However, he started flying into Marion and has found advantages in doing so. For one, instead of having to drive 25 minutes across Cedar Rapids upon landing, he can land at Marion and drive only two minutes to the Quincy Recycle location which is on Gateway Drive near Legacy Manufacturing.

Another advantage Bradford mentioned is the price of fuel. The Marion Airport provides it for significantly less than Signature Flight charges at the Eastern Iowa Airport.

As Bradford said, for businesses, it comes down to safety and savings. He is hoping to see Marion receive the grant to further expand the runway and plans to continue to use the Marion Airport.
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