Jefferson City Memorial Airport Takes Flight

The Jefferson City Memorial Airport has served the community and region since its construction in 1948. Interest in a hard surface airport began prior to WWII, as the first recognized airport was located near the current site of the Missouri Department of Conservation and Unilever in 1927-1929. Shortly after this site was chosen it was determined to be unsatisfactory for various reasons, so a separate location was identified on the north side of the river where the Turkey Creek Golf Center is currently located. Federal funding coupled with a bond issued by the City of Jefferson lead to the construction of the JC Memorial Airport which was located just to the east of Turkey Creek area. The total cost of the airport, including one paved runway and two grass runways, totaled $310,000. 

Over the years, the airport has experienced multiple shutdowns as flood waters enveloped not only the runways but completely shut down all operations. The airport’s former administrative building’s “last gasp for air” occurred in 2019, as the Missouri River crested at 33.5 feet. After the flood waters retreated, it was determined the cost to rebuild would be more than 50 percent of the building’s pre-flood value. It was then determined the building would need to be demolished. 

The misfortune that led to the administrative building’s demolition forced the City of Jefferson to act swiftly, and they did by entering into a development agreement with RHK Airport Properties to design and construct a new terminal facility. The agreement permits RHK Airport Properties to design and build a new facility, on the same site location, which will house an airport hangar, restaurant, and administrative offices. 

“As sad as it was to see the terminal building demolished, this is also an opportunity to do a lot more with that space and is a great step forward for the airport and its customers,” said Eric Bowers, Airport Manager. 

The old terminal, constructed in 1966, had served our community for fifty-six years but the aging facility had succumbed to continual flooding and general aging issues. Once fully operational, the new administrative building will offer a much-needed expanded footprint with the advantage of a second floor, which will house a new restaurant named, The Landing Zone. The restaurant will offer a full breakfast and lunch menu. In addition, the terminal will house administrative personnel as well as an attached hangar. 

“We are excited to have a restaurant again. A good restaurant will draw in both recreational flyers and folks from the community,” stated Bowers.

One of the greatest misnomers regarding the Jefferson City Memorial Airport is its perception of being a “sleepy little airport across the river.” In reality, it’s the sixth busiest airport out of 127 public use airports in Missouri with an average of 35,000 flights per year. Common daily activities consist of corporate flying, flight training, military exercises, air cargo, and recreational flying. The airfield is shared with the Missouri National Guard, including the Special Troops Battalion-Joint Force Headquarters, along with the Air National Guard. The overall economic impact to the area is estimated to be over $22.0 million annual (based on 2012 study by MoDOT) and over 100 full-time employees, dispersed across more than a dozen entities. 

“We see a lot of business jet traffic here. This airport is often the first impression for people flying to conduct business in the mid-Missouri area,” said Bowers. “There are a lot of exciting things happening at the airport right now. We are growing and expanding steadily. I am confident that in the next few years we will see a significant increase in our operation numbers, based aircraft, and economic impact.”

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