Thanks to the generosity of a World War II veteran and prisoner of war, plus a little luck, construction is expected to begin next year on a new terminal for Enid Woodring Regional Airport.
World War II veteran M.L. Becker, who grew up in Meno and Enid, was a pilot who for years operated an aircraft maintenance business at Woodring, said Dan Ohnesorge, airport director. Becker passed away in April at the age of 94, and left $500,000 to the airport, earmarked for construction of a new terminal.
After receiving that gift, Ohnesorge asked Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission for a $500,000 grant. He was told OAC had Woodring penciled in on its three-year capital improvement plan for a grant in 2020.
Lawton was on top of the list for this year's grant, Ohnesorge said, but that project stalled, making the money available for Woodring's new terminal building. OAC voted this week to move Woodring to the front of the line for the grant.
The project is expected to cost approximately $1.8 million, Ohnesorge said. There is some money available in the airport fund, and he plans to ask Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission for some funding, as well. That will require including a joint-use planning room that can accommodate both military and civilian pilots.
The project is very much in the planning stages, Ohnesorge said. There have been meetings with the architect, G2 Architects of Tulsa, and Ohnesorge said he hopes plans and specifications will be completed by the end of the year. The new terminal building likely will be put out for bid early in 2018, with plans to break ground in late spring. Once the plans are done, the grant proposal will be officially presented to OAC.
Ohnesorge said he hopes to present the proposal to Enid City Commission next month.
Becker was a tail gunner in a B-26 shot down over Germany just days before Christmas 1943. He was held captive until being liberated four months later.
After the war he received training in aircraft maintenance. He worked at Vance Air Force Base for five years, then opened an aircraft maintenance business at Enid Woodring Regional Airport, which he operated for 37 years until his retirement in 1992.
"It worked out really well for us," said Ohnesorge. "We got a shot in the arm from Mr. Becker."
Ohnesorge said there have been electrical and plumbing problems of late with the present terminal building, which was built in the 1970s, and the roof has leaked.
"It has run its course," said Ohnesorge. "It has run its course and it is time to build a new one."