Aerial view of the Reno-Stead Airport taken from an aircraft flying overhead.

Information for pilots and users of Reno-Stead Airport.

Stead Airport User’s Association Newsletter – Summer 2013

RSAA-Newsletter-HeaderSummer 2013

Our Reno-Stead Airport: An Economic Driver for the Region

Nevada Airports Soar on Economic Output

Reno Gazette-Journal
March 20, 2012

Nevada airports are a driving force in the state’s economy, generating an average economic output of $8.1 billion in 2010.

That’s according to a new report prepared by Cincinnati-based CDM Smith for Airports Council International.

The  Las Vegas Sun reports that Nevada ranked ninth out of the 50 states, with its airports generating a combined $40.5 billion in economic activity. The state’s five commercial airports provided 313,640 jobs and had an annual payroll of $11.8 billion.

On average, Nevada’s airports produced economic output of $8.1 billion per airport, second only to Georgia, which is also home to the nation’s busiest airport.

Reno-Stead Airport’s Economic Impact on the Region

In a news article appearing August 8, 2012, in the  Reno Gazette-Journal/, it is  announced that “Two airports have a $2 billion impact on the region.” This report was  prepared by Kambiz Raffiee, Associate Dean and Director of the MBA Program at the University of Nevada, Reno, College of Business. The article goes on to report that “The total [annual] impact of the Reno-Stead Airport is estimated to be $189,678,968, which generates and supports 2,182 jobs in Northern Nevada. The total [annual] impact of the two Reno-Tahoe airports combined is estimated at $2,022,494,861. This amounts to 8.8% of the gross domestic product of the Reno-Sparks and Carson City area in 2010.”

The Reno-Stead Airport can be, and should be, developed to accommodate more than General Aviation usage for weekend pilots. Investors from larger companies should be solicited to make economic investments at or near the Reno-Stead Airport.

We all have heard and understand the so-called “multiplier effect”. When investments are made, the effect ripples and multiplies throughout the economy. The  new EOC/Terminal Building  under construction  will create jobs, spur economic development and provide a platform for future development and use of the Reno-Stead Airport. It takes money to make money. Consider the EOC/Terminal Building Project as “planting a seed” to grow Reno-Stead Airport. Think of “leverage”.

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Nevada Leaders Promote Aerospace and Defense

In a 2011 report prepared by the Brookings Institution/Metropolitan Policy Program, Brookings Mountain West, SRI International, entitled “Unify/Regionalize/Diversity, An Economic Development Agenda for Nevada”, it is reported:

7. Aerospace and Defense

The Aerospace and Defense (A&D) industry holds high potential for Nevada because of the state’s existing base of defense expertise, its established testing and training infrastructure, and its geographic  characteristics that enable extensive testing operations. Nevada’s A&D industry has traditionally focused more on testing and support operations than on weapons and systems manufacture. The state’s support operations have served to attract branches of larger systems integrators, though, and companies such as Boeing have benefited from the state’s testing infrastructure. Nevada’s test ranges host specialized testing and training activities for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) platforms. The Aerospace and Defense industry has potential to play a significant role in Nevada’s future.

Target Opportunities:

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Supply, Assembly, and Testing.

Unmanned systems are next-generation technologies emerging in the aerospace field, with applications in the military and also for police and border patrols and for search-and-rescue operations. The United States alone is planning to spend just under $4 billion each year through 2013  on the development, procurement and operation of UAVs, and worldwide UAV expenditures are expected to more than double over the next 10 years. Many of the U.S. systems will be tested on Nevada ranges, and industry stakeholders indicated that there is an opportunity for businesses in Nevada to partner in the development and assembly of UAVs, and to participate in supplying and maintaining the ranges and the sensors with which they are tested. This opportunity dovetails well with the advanced composite materials opportunity described in the Mining, Materials and Manufacturing industry section. The use of advanced composite materials in UAVs helps to decrease vehicle weight and increase fuel efficiency. Unmanned Aerial Systems, Inc. (UASI) of Las Vegas builds the Nightwind 2 aircraft, a blended wing aircraft with 100 percent composite construction.

Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) of Aircraft Systems.

Though aircraft MRO is a mature industry, the back-shop maintenance of flight and navigation systems is a growth opportunity for Nevada, since the developmental aircraft tested on Nevada’s ranges will require specialized (typically) on-site services. These activities include maintenance and repair, overhaul of aircraft and aircraft parts, inspection and testing, and sourcing of parts and supplies. Nevada already has some activity in this area.

UAV/UAS Development at Stead.

The  Reno-Stead Airport is a candidate for one of six sites for the new national UAV/UAS Project, to be selected in the near future. The new UAV/UAS Project is a $94 billion a year program that is supported by the Governor of the State of Nevada, acting through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. While no promises can be made, Stead has been identified as one of the premium sites in Nevada for this economic opportunity.

In an article appearing on,  dated April 1, 2012, “Longoverlooked Front Range Airport apt to spring to life with new economic engines”. This article reports that, “For nearly 30 years, the Front   Range Airport (FTG) has sprawled on prairie land near the Eastern Plains town of Watkins [Colorado], managing to cling to life as development dreams have been dashed. Now, those dreams are once again at the forefront as the 4,000-acre airport’s long-sought prosperity hinges  on a mix of futuristic space travel, unmanned aircraft, new surrounding development and continued general-aviation services.”

The Front Range Airport has an 11,250 square foot, two-story terminal building, housing a pilot’s lounge, a pilot’s planning area, two airport management offices, a record storage room, a large meeting room and a restaurant. According to Assistant Airport Director Ken Lawson (303-261-9103), a 20,000 square foot terminal should have been built for this reliever airport.

Over the past few years and possibly long into the future, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), now headquartered in Sparks, has had a presence at the Reno-Stead Airport for its business, testing and economic  development activities. With a belief in, and a vision for, future development, a welcoming attitude and unmistakable signs of progress, it is more likely that many corporations will also come to  the Reno-Stead Airport due to the now-apparent and increasing support and growth.

A Drone Degree from UNR?

Reno Gazette-Journal
June 26, 2013
Staff Report

Future higher education programs involving drones was discussed at the Titans of Industry workshop held June 26-27, 2013 in Las Vegas.

The event will allow Nevada’s universities, including the University of Nevada, Reno, to create Unmanned Aerial Vehicle degree programs with active involvement from corporate industry
leaders looking to hire these graduates in the next five years, according to the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

Educators and government officials met with representatives from companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and the Matrix Group in an effort to craft degree and certificate programs
beginning at the high school level.

According to Tom Wilczek of the Governor’s development office, Nevada is well-positioned to provide such a program because of the UAV expertise at Creech and Nellis Air Force Bases and
Naval Air Station Fallon.

“Any program we offer will be a hands-on learning experience,” Wilczek said.

“Because Nevada supports both military and civilian UAV development throughout the state, these academic courses would be based in a real-world setting with access  to the industry
experts. I don’t know of any other programs that can do that.”

Sandoval Sought and the Nevada Legislature Provided $5M for Drone Application and Support

Reno Gazette-Journal
Associated Press
May 13, 2013

Governor Brian Sandoval wants to spend $5 million to support Nevada’s application to be one of six locations designated as a center for drone development in the United States.

The Federal Aviation Administration in February solicited applications for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle development centers.

Sandoval on May 10, 2013 proposed a budget amendment setting aside $5 million to support Nevada’s application.

He said Nevada has been host to drone operations for decades and the state’s military air space and dry climate make it a perfect location to expand testing facilities.

The governor added that if Nevada is chosen, the center could bring thousands of jobs, generate $125 million in annual tax revenue and have an overall economic impact of $2.5 billion.

The Nevada Legislature approved Sandoval’s request on June 10, 2013.

Our GA Airports Are a National Asset.

In May, 2012, the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration published a comprehensive study entitled “General Aviation Airports: A National Asset”, a fresh look at the many roles General Aviation airports play in the national air transportation system. In her opening remarks, Christa Fornarotto, FAA Associate Administrator for Airports, stated:

What do general aviation airports mean to you? That’s  exactly what we ask ourselves when trying to plan and make infrastructure decisions for our general aviation airports. Over the course of more than 100 years of flight, general aviation airports have evolved from simple landing strips to complex aviation centers. Yet, how we categorize them has not kept up.

Did you know that many general aviation airports provide flights to patients in need of critical medical care? Or that local, state and federal law enforcement agencies use general aviation airports for easier access to our airspace? Or that many of these airports provide flight training which helps keep a steady supply of pilots available for our airlines and military. For policymakers, these different types of activities require  different planning and infrastructure spending.

That is why we undertook an extensive 18-month study to examine the roles that general aviation airports play in our national aviation system to ensure we plan and invest wisely.

We applaud the local communities for  their continuing support and commitment to aviation. It is important that we work together to ensure our aviation system truly operates as a system. While this report has given us a good foundation and starting point, we recognize that more work needs to be done. We pledge to continue working with our aviation stakeholders and local communities to ensure that our airports remain safe and efficient and meet the needs of the American public.

I invite you to read how we categorized general aviation airports. Thank you for your interest in our nation’s airports!

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Did you know that tens of thousands of general aviation aircraft, including corporate jets, medical evacuation helicopters and airplanes owned by individuals for business and personal use are flown in the United States? In fact, three out of every four takeoffs and landings at U.S. airports are conducted by general aviation aircraft, and most of these flights occur at general aviation airports.

Local Airports

The 1,236 local airports are the backbone of our general aviation system with at least one local airport in virtually every state. They are typically located near larger population centers, but not necessarily in metropolitan or  micropolitan areas. Local airports account for 42 percent of the general aviation airports eligible for Federal funding, approximately 38 percent of the total flying at the studied general aviation airports, and 17 percent of flying with flight plans; most of the flying is by piston aircraft in support of business and personal needs. In addition, these airports also typically accommodate flight training, emergency services and charter passenger service. The flying tends to be within a state or immediate region. There are no heliports, but there are four seaplane bases in this category.

  • 980 local airports supported air ambulance services.
  • 121 of these airports have fulfilled a critical community service provided by Government agencies (law enforcement, U.S. Postal Service, U.S.Customs and Border Protection and/or U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Marshals Service, and Essential Air Service).
  • 70 have scheduled air service that boarded more than 2,500, but less than 10,000, passengers in 2010 with 68 in Alaska.
  • 42 are designated as reliever airports.
  • 30 were used by large certificated air carriers for charter flights.
  • The typical airport has 37 based aircraft.
  • Operators spend over $2.2 million per year flying at each of these airports.
  • $2.6 billion of AIP funds was invested at the local airports during the period 2001-2009.

The New EOC/Terminal Building is in the News.

The new Reno-Stead Terminal and EOC Building has attracted national attention. The following article appeared May 3, 2013,  in the  widely distributed publication of the National Business Aviation Association ( NBAA represents over 8,000 companies.

Reno-Stead Airport Invests in New GA Building

Reno-Stead Airport (RTS), located in northern Nevada, about 14 miles northwest of Reno-Tahoe International Airport, is upgrading its Cold War-era general aviation (GA) infrastructure with a modern new facility.

On April 16, 2013, ground was broken on the $6 million, 12,000-square-foot replacement for its former general aviation building, and the new facility is slated for completion by the end of the year.

“Economic development is our buzzword,” said Tom Hall, President of the Reno-Stead Airport Association. “But we needed to replace the old manager’s office, and there was no emergency operations center on the field. So  construction of the new GA facility really was driven by safety, and then as it has grown it has been economic development to the benefit of our tenants and the community.”

The investment also comes at a time when the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority has been encouraging general aviation aircraft operators to make use of the Reno-Stead Airport, though both local airports welcome GA traffic.

“In recent years, the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority has made efforts to relocate as much general aviation traffic as it can to Reno-Stead Airport,” said Stacy Howard, NBAA’s Western regional representative. “Part of the reason general aviation tenants were unwilling to relocate to that airport was because of the lack of facilities and space there. If Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority hopes to encourage general aviation to operate out of Reno-Stead, it needs to make these kinds of improvements.”

Reno-Stead Airport’s role as an important reliever airport was another impetus for the face lift, given that it previously had a double-wide trailer for a pilots’ lounge and former Stead Air Force Base buildings for office space.

“It’s a great reliever airport, and there’s a lot of industry around the airport, so the new GA terminal was something that was needed,” said Bob Meurer, President of the Reno-Tahoe Aviation Association.

The two-story building, being built by Q & D Construction of Reno and paid for the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority bond funds, will include a pilots’ lounge with restrooms, meeting space, offices for the airport manager and his staff, an emergency operations center and, potentially, a restaurant.

Construction won’t impact air traffic, as it’s all taking place landside, and temporary facilities will be available until the new building is complete.

Grand opening festivities are anticipated for December 17, 2013.


The following nine items that a fire inspector looks for are of primary concern to Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority (RTAA) Fire Inspectors  as they conduct inspections at  the Reno-Stead Airport:

  1. Combustible rubbish stored in non-combustible metal containers with lids.  –1103.6
  2. Oily rags and such stored in approved closed containers with self-closing lids. –1103.6
  3. NO SMOKING SIGNS. – 1103.2
  4. Fire extinguishers in approved areas and inspected and serviced by a State of Nevada authorized fire extinguisher company. A minimum size fire extinguisher of 10 lb. ABC type agent and UL listed.
  5. Extension cords shall not be used as a substitute for permanent wiring and only used with one portable appliance. The amp capacity shall not be less than the rated capacity of the portable appliance supplied by the cord. Appropriate storage of cords when not in use. – 605.5
  6. Aircraft work is limited the exchange of parts and maintenance requiring no open flame. – 1104.6
  7. Flammable and combustible liquids, when stored over 10 gallons must be stored in a liquid storage cabinet labeled “Flammable – Keep Fire Away”. Doors must be well fitted, self-closing and equipped with a latch. Cabinets shall be UL listed or equivalent. – 3404.
  8. Keep area around fire extinguisher free and clear and provide clear access to them. Recommend a 30” red line/box showing clearance in front of fire extinguishers and electrical service. – 1105.7
  9. Label containers with actual contents.
UNR Alum donates $1M to Business College.

Reno Gazette-Journal
September 29, 2011

University of Nevada, Reno alumnus Rick Sontag,  founder of Unison Industries, presented a $1 million check to the College of Business after speaking at a Business Week event.

The money will be used to endow the annual Sontag Entrepreneurship Award. Students who show the ability and intention to start or expand a business could win the almost $50,000 award.

Dean Greg Mosier said it is the largest gift the business college has ever received. Sontag, who graduated with a master’s degree in physics in 1966, grew Unison into a worldwide leader in aviation technology. He sold the company to General Electric in 2002.

“The students who get this award, I just hope they have the spirit of wanting to succeed and don’t worry about falling on their faces as they try,” Sontag said.


Will Rogers, who died in a 1935 plane crash in Alaska with his best friend Wylie Post, was probably the greatest political sage this country has ever known. His advice endures forever:

  1. Never slap a man who’s chewing tobacco.
  2. Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.
  3. There are two theories to arguing with a woman . . . Neither works!
  4. Never miss a good chance to shut up.
  5. Always drink upstream from the herd.
  6. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
  7. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back into your pocket.
  8. There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves.
  9. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
  10. If you’re riding ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there.
  11. Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier’n puttin’ it back in.
  12. After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.

Reno Gazette-Journal’s”TODAY IN HISTORY”

FROM THE NEVADA STATE JOURNAL, JULY 1, 1947:  Firemen and sheriff’s deputies were called to Hubbard Field Sunday afternoon when two United States aircraft tangled on a runway immediately after landing. One report of the accident stated that one of the two planes, both F6Fs, “chewed” the tail off the second as they landed in formation. A second report said a sudden downdraft was responsible for the first aircraft smashing its tail section as it landed. Neither pilot was injured. Local civil aeronautics administration officials did not investigate the crash as both were military planes. The planes reportedly were based in Oakland and came to Reno yesterday on a practice flight.