GTR Celebrates 50th Anniversary

By Mike Hainsey, Executive Director
Golden Triangle Regional Airport

Event participants included (from left) Col. Brad Spears, Commander, 14th Operations Group, Columbus Air Force Base; GTR Airport Executive Director Mike Hainsey; Sen. Roger Wicker; Eric Phillips, Senior Vice President for Customer Care and Cargo, Delta Air Lines and Chief Master Sergeant Antonio Cooper, Command Chief Master Sergeant, 14th Operations Group, Columbus Air Force Base.

The Golden Triangle Regional Airport celebrated its 50th Anniversary in style in December with more than 200 people enjoying an event held in the airport terminal. Senator Roger Wicker highlighted the event with a keynote address that compared the founders of the airport with visionary leaders from America’s past.

“Those founders had the vision and foresight to see what the community needed for future generations and to make it happen,” said Wicker.

The highlight was when the airport dedicated the newest wing of the airport after the only surviving founder, Stuart Vance. Wicker presented Vance a plaque commemorating the dedication.

Among 200-plus attendees were (from left) MAA Executive Director Kathy Kenne, retired MDOT Aeronautics Director Elton Jay and GTR Airport co-founder – and namesake of the new airport wing – Stuart Vance.

Before the event, the speakers were treated to a tour of the Air Traffic Control facility as well as a driving tour of the industry in the area. Eric Phillips, the Senior Vice President for Customer Care and Cargo for Delta Air Lines, commented on this in his remarks to event guests.

“The Golden Triangle region is truly a model of economic development, and its future is bright,” said Phillips. “Delta is proud to serve it.”

In addition, the attendees of the event witnessed the first unmanned aircraft flight to take place at GTR. Operated by Mississippi State University’s Raspet Flight Research Laboratory, the Tigershark aircraft launched autonomously and flew around the airport prior to landing within a foot of the planned spot.

“The entire event was a huge success,” said GTR’s Executive Director Mike Hainsey. “We’re proud to have so many people here to help us celebrate 50 years of serving the communities in the Golden Triangle and northeast Mississippi.”