The City of Ocala promotes the Ocala International Airport as a premier general aviation airport serving commercial, industrial and corporate needs of the City of Ocala and Marion County in Florida. The City of Ocala intends to concentrate on operating the airport as a general aviation facility, expanding current infrastructures to accommodate large aviation activities, while maintaining high levels of service to its tie-down and t-hangar clientele. The Ocala International Airport is operated with fiscal responsibility and responsiveness to the needs of its users and tenants. The vacant Airport land shall be marketed to its highest and best use to ensure the financial viability of the City of Ocala-owned facility. The City of Ocala encourages the cooperation of private and public sector investment for the development of corporate hangars and other compatible uses at the Ocala International Airport. The City of Ocala will continue to cooperate with Marion County, FL, airport neighbors and community residents to ensure the airport and its surrounding environment are compatible. The City of Ocala recognizes the Ocala Airport Advisory Board as an advisory community group and will utilize this voice to assist in providing input for the development and implementation of airport progress, and to provide a means of positive communication with airport users.
Ocala International Airport History
The history of aviation in the Ocala, FL, area began in 1927 when Ruperty Cavanas persuaded Jim Taylor to donate land to the City of Ocala for development of an airport. By 1928, Jim Taylor Field had been constructed. In early 1941, Mr. Frank Hanley came to Ocala and established a contract pilot school for the Army/Air Force. The school had originally been designated for Greenville, Mississippi, but due to Ocala’s desire to have an airbase, it was located in Ocala. The school began training pilots in late 1941 under the name Greenville Aviation. Greenville Aviation operated until 1944, when it closed due to an overabundance of pilots and the impending end of World War II. In 1947, Eastern Airlines began servicing Ocala through this airport using Douglas DC-3 aircraft and continued service at this location through 1967. In 1962, the Federal Aviation Administration (then the Federal Aviation Agency) believed that a new airport should be constructed in Ocala. The city was growing around the airport, and airport expansion was needed to accommodate larger general aviation and commercial aircraft. The city issued bonds to finance construction of the airport, which included a 5,006-foot runway, parallel taxiway, terminal building, runway and taxiway lighting, and a weather reporting facility. The airport became operational, and Eastern Airlines began service at the new facility in 1968. Eastern Airlines served Ocala for approximately four more years. In 1972, Eastern Airlines moved its service to Gainesville Regional Airport, which is approximately 37 miles to the north of Ocala. Under an agreement with the City of Ocala, a commuter carrier moved in to serve the Ocala area. However, this was accomplished with the understanding that if the commuter carrier discontinued service, Eastern Airlines would then reinstate service to Ocala. In 1971, the Civil Aeronautics Board approved a plan by Eastern to serve the Ocala market through Gainesville. This decision relieved Eastern of its obligation to return service to Ocala. Since 1971, five different commuter carriers have served Ocala with the last being Allegheny Commuter. Commuter service was discontinued in the early 1980′s and remains so to the present day. Currently, air taxi and charter flights are the only remaining air service available at Ocala. The 1968 facilities were expanded over the years to keep pace with the growth of civil aviation. In 1973, a 3,010-foot east/west crosswind runway was added off the north end of Runway 18/36. In 1988, Runway 18/36 was extended 1,900 feet to accommodate even larger aircraft. Over the years, the airport has been upgraded with a localizer approach on Runway 36, precision approach path indicators (PAPIs) on Runway 18/36, new runway and taxiway lighting, a parallel taxiway for Runway 8/26, conventional hangars, T-hangars, expanded apron areas, and a fixed base operator. In 1994, the airport acquired approximately 400 additional acres of land adjoining the southwest portion of the airfield for future aviation development, bringing the total acreage of the airport to 1,532 acres. In 1995, airfield signage was installed and existing signage was corrected to meet Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 139 “Certification & Operations: Land Airports Serving Air Carriers” regulations. Additionally, an Instrument Landing System (ILS) was installed, an asphalt overlay of Runway 8/26 and its associated taxiways was completed, and an extensive obstruction removal program began to remove trees and other obstructions to air navigation. The following is a summary of recent projects:
- 2005 – Runway 18/36 safety area and runway extension improvements
- 2006 – 20 additional T-hangars were constructed bringing the total to 101 units
- 2008 – Runway 18/36 rehabilitation
Airport Organization/Operating Structure
Ocala International Airport is owned and operated by the City of Ocala. Ocala has a seven member Airport Advisory Board appointed by the City Commission with staggered terms. The purpose of the Advisory Board is to provide local community input to the airport and its staff. A full-time manager with a staff of four manages Ocala International.
Ocala International has many capabilities. In its current role, the airport serves general aviation, corporate aviation, and the air cargo industry. The airport does accommodate flight training activity and envisions increasing its role as a provider and accommodator of flight training activities. Since approximately eight percent of its activity is related to air taxi/air charter operations and 35 percent to business related activity, the airport’s management believes that it could support SATS related air taxi operations. As seen by management, the airport’s future role is limited only by financial considerations. The airport does not report any manmade, environmental, or community factors that will limit its future system role or growth. While the airport sees itself experiencing modest growth in the coming years, management’s vision for the future would incorporate limited commercial service at the airport, along with expanded airside and commercial/industrial related development. Flight training is a component of this airport’s general aviation activity. Roughly 30 percent of the airport’s annual operations are related to flight training. There is one business located on the airport that provides flight training; this business employs eight flight instructors and has 11 aircraft that are dedicated to flight training. General aviation operations by corporate and business users are also common at the airport. The airport estimates that 35 percent of its annual general aviation operations are business related. Approximately 12 percent of the airport’s based aircraft are owned by local businesses. The airport also attracts a number of transient or visiting general aviation aircraft. This type of activity accounts for approximately 25 percent of the airport’s annual activity. Approximately, 70 percent of all visiting general aviation aircraft fall into the business jet category. An industrial park is under development one mile west of the airport. In addition, there are two other industrial parks located within a mile of the airport. While the airport does not have any based military aircraft, it does accommodate transient military operations. Airport management reports that less than one percent of its total annual activity, or 250 annual operations, is attributable to military operations.
Aviation Activity and Facility Use (August 2002)
Ocala International serves the needs of general aviation, corporate aviation, and the air cargo industry. The largest plane that uses the airport on a regular basis is the Gulfstream V. However, aircraft such as the Boeing 727 and 737 and the Douglas DC-8 are occasional users of the airport. The current Airport Reference Code (ARC) as defined by the FAA Circular 150/5300-13 for the airport is C-III. General aviation constitutes a considerable portion of the airport’s annual activity. According to the FAA records there are 170 based general aviation aircraft at the airport. Of this total, approximately 20 percent of the aircraft are stored on paved tie-downs, and the remaining percentage are in T-hangars or conventional hangars. The airport has no aviation training programs that are connected with any of the local colleges, universities, or technical schools.
Ocala International is served by two runways, Runway 8/26, which is 3,010 feet long by 50 feet wide and Runway 18/36, which is 7,467 feet long by 150 feet wide. These runways are both asphalt and in good condition. Both runways are served by full-length parallel taxiways. The airport has a 4,000-square foot general aviation terminal and a 1,900-square foot administrative building with 72 paved automobile parking spaces for airport patrons. There are currently over 50 tie-downs for airport’s general aviation aircraft, and between the airport’s T-hangars and conventional hangars, there are over 100 enclosed parking spaces for aircraft.