Manhattan Regional Airport
A 5-minute drive from the heart of Manhattan, Kansas, the Regional Airport serves as a convenient port of call for area business and pleasure travelers. On 08 November 2001 U.S. Representative Jim Ryun (R-KS) announced the inclusion of $240,000 in federal assistance for apron expansion at the Manhattan Regional Airport in the Fiscal Year 2002 Fiscal Year 2002 Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development (VA/HUD) Appropriations Act Conference Report. The same day the U.S. House passed the FY2002 VA/HUD Appropriations Act by a vote of 401 to 18. The funds for the Manhattan airport were provided in the form of Community and Development Block Grant.
The expansion is necessary due to the airport's proximity to Fort Riley, one of the US Army's prime maneuver posts. The Fort is beginning to use the Manhattan airport as a power projection platform for rapid deployments, and the airport has recently seen a marked increase in C-17 transport of M1A1 tanks and M2A1 Bradley Fighting Vehicles. Under the new development, the existing apron will be expanded near the passenger terminal to accommodate one additional jet transport in parking. The largest plane to be accommodated in this space will be the C-17A, which is one of two types of aircraft used for tank and Bradley airlift. The funding requested by Rep. Ryun will provide for a portion of the construction costs.
On 15 May 2001, at approximately 12:00 noon an Air Force C-17 transport plane landed at the Manhattan Regional Airport. The C-17 was the first plane of its size to land at the airport. The purpose of its visit was to provide an opportunity for Fort Riley soldiers to get actual "hands on" practice loading and unloading equipment onto the aircraft. On the second day of the aircraft's visit, Fort Riley soldiers trained from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. The soldiers loaded and unloaded equipment using several different load plans. They worked with over 30 pieces of equipment. Tractors, trailers and a Blackhawk MEDEVAC helicopter were used during this training exercise. Richard Wollenberg, Installation Transportation Officer of Fort Riley, stated that "Because a plane of this size can land at Manhattan, we are hoping this airport will be used more now for rapid deployments instead of Topeka". He also commented that Fort Riley plans on trying to hold this type of exercise quarterly.
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