Wood County Airport Reaching New Heights

“It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… no wait, it really is a plane!”

Here, in the communities that comprise Wood County? Well, why not?

Thanks to generous donations from North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority (NET RMA) and the Wood County Economic Development Commission (WCEDC), among others, the Collins Field / Wood County Airport is pleased to be announcing new renovations for 2023.

The renovations include increased accessibility via brand new sidewalks, a beautiful landscape and garden area complete with bistro table and chairs, and updated fencing all around the airport. Each of these were completed in the spring and early summer of 2023.

“It seems like it took forever,” said Erin Mason, the Assistant Airport Manager, with a laugh. “A full week was invested by me and That Guy’s Lawn & Perimeter Pest, LLC in making the front terminal landscape ready for the ribbon cutting. [We are also grateful for a] donation of fresh mulch by the Wood County Electric Co-op. This airport has always been a great representation of teamwork within our community.”

Most important among the new developments, however, is the airport’s biggest, boldest, and perhaps most game-changing renovation yet: the brand-new ramp expansion. The significance of this change is no small thing.

Because of it, the airport and its aviation board are hoping to open up the airport to small jets that can begin running commercial flights directly from Wood County. No longer will citizens of Mineola, Winnsboro, Quitman, or others have to drive to Dallas to catch a flight. And no longer will we have to add the cost of gas to the cost of a flight out of Dallas, Tyler, or another big city.

Why do that when you can catch one right out of your home county?

Speaking of home, the airport has always been a project close to the heart of one of Mineola’s most influential citizens: Lou Steele. Steele is on the board of the Mineola Memorial Library, she helped re-build the Lake Country Playhouse and the Historic Select Theater, and she volunteers in pretty much every organization in Mineola. And if that wasn’t enough, her uncle and his friend, Wayne Collins—for whom the airport is named—also built the airport.

“Wayne was like my stepdad,” says Steele. “And,” she laughs, “Wayne and my Uncle Dan were born four months apart. They were raised in Mineola, and they were best friends. My Uncle Dan would go to market in New York in Wayne’s plane–as the co-pilot—to buy clothes for the store!”

The airport’s location represents the people that Steele serves. Tucked away into the nooks and crannies of gorgeous, backwoods country roads, Collins Field has the space to spread out and expand, but it still offers the privacy that Wood County is known for.

According to the Collins Field website, “The Wood County Airport Terminal now houses a pilot’s planning area, pilot’s lounge—complete with leathered chairs that recline, table (chess if you like), a library, DirectTV and wireless Internet access, a kitchenette, lobby, and conference room complete with overhead computer projector, pull-down screen, and white board.”

The airport website also reveals another interesting fact. Even before the ramp expansion, before the renovations, and before any of several other major upgrades, the airport “received the coveted recognition as the best ‘Airport of the Year 2010’ award.”

And now that they have all of these upgrades, this $2.2 million facility is “soaring” above and beyond original expectations. They’re working every day, planning new projects and new updates, for you. As citizens of Wood County, we can begin to take advantage of this new ramp expansion almost immediately.

Are you a grandparent, friend, sibling, or parent? You’ll be able to bring in your loved ones to visit with more ease than ever. Do you own a business? Because of the new opportunities the ramp expansion has created, you’ll be getting more customers. Do you love your community? We’ll be able to grow it even further and make it even more beautiful with the revenue from this development.

“Fortune favors the bold,” said John Cloutier at the ribbon cutting. “The communities that set goals and achieve them and manage them and work with their partners in the area, are going to be ready for that growth. So I congratulate you on your vision, your project champions, and people who know how to think about their grandchildren(‘s futures),” he said.

And similarly, airport board member John Wisdom pointed out that this new runway will not only bring in pilots from other places, it can also take us anywhere. Goals that seemed too far in the past are now within our grasp because of this new expansion.

“A mile of highway will take you a mile, but a mile of runway will take you however much gas you’ve got in your tank,” said Wisdom at the ribbon cutting for the much-awaited ramp expansion. “For my airplane sitting over here, that’ll take me 1,300 miles. So on one mile of runway, I can go 1,300 miles.”

This means that, even without refueling at the Wood County Airport’s automated fueling station, this new runway will enable Wisdom to travel roughly the distance from Dallas, Texas to Toronto, Canada. “That’s what aviation does for you,” he said.

“[The airport is] one of those things that I just really, really enjoy! It makes you feel good,” said Steele. “If you have a good airport that people actually want to come to, and it’s well maintained, [it will go well],” she said.

Mason affirms these values. “These new developments are just the first in some extremely exciting changes that we’re working to bring to Collins Field,” she said. “We’re going to continue to work hard to provide the best general aviation facilities in all of East Texas.”

For more information on the Wood County airport, to contact them, or to find out more about the new ramp expansion, visit the Collins Field website at https://www.woodcountyairport.net.

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