**The Hastings City Barry County Airport continues its upgrades as it moves into the future, adding an Automated Weather Observation System to replace the 30-year-old system there. “I’ve been thinking about it for quite a while,” said David McIntyre.
McIntyre is well known for his National Weather Service Climatological Station at his home, sending Hastings weather data out every morning, with updates during the day, for more than 35 years.
“They had been looking for weather instruments for a while too, but they couldn’t find anything that matched what they wanted that was not too expensive,” McIntyre said. “I suggested they look at the Davis system, and they took it from there…it’s another addition for the benefit of pilots who come here.”
Back in the day, the federal government paid for airport’s weather systems; no more. This one is a $1,000 gift from the Hasting Flying Association, local pilots and supporters, the latest donation in a long history of volunteer hours, donations and financial support for the airport.
The name of the airport, City of Hastings/Barry County Airport, controlled through a Joint Operation Agreement and financial support, no longer fits. Under the leadership of Manager Mark Noteboom, the facility, following an announced five year plan, has been entirely self-sufficient since 2016, no longer getting funding from either governmental unit.
Mark Anderson, vice president of the flying association, said in 1946, the airport was basically built by volunteers, and they continue to be very involved in its improvements. “The growth of the airport in the last 10 years has been phenomenal…the MDOT says it’s one of the best airport in the state,” he said.
The MDOT Aero Division is the airport’s regulatory body, its link to the Federal Aviation Administration.
When Noteboom was hired in 2009, there were 18 hanger spaces. There are now 74, with four helicopters and a jet plane housed there. Many worked with Noteboom and airport supporters to help the airport become self-sufficient in addition to the Hastings Flying Association.
“Earlene and Larry Baum donated a lot to get the airport self -sufficient. They are absolutely an asset to the airport; they supported us 100 percent.”
He noted the airport also has good neighbors who support it. “We give special thanks to Fred Newton for negotiating the runway extension.”
Part of the growth is from plane owners from larger cities, including Grand Rapids, where pilots don’t like the fees to land; Hastings doesn’t charge to land. “We could charge fees, we chose not to,” Noteboom said. The airport has more traffic than most realize, Anderson said. “Several area businesses have their own planes at the airport; almost every business in town does business here.”
The Davis System, about the size of a home satellite dish, records the temperature, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, humidity, rainfall, wind chill, the forecast, time and date, weather variables for the past 25 days, the weather forecast and more.
The information is on-line and relayed to a monitor in the administration building.
In the air, pilots can track weather changes by smart phone or iPad. Pilots as a rule like and use technology; most have an iPad in the cockpit, Anderson said. The system is very popular with airports; there are 1,500 of them blanketing the United States.
Those who visit the webpage, www.weatherlink.com can join the system to get the information from any Davis station. It brings up pages of information on a smart phone that any pilot can view before they take their plane out of a hanger; while making plans, they can learn what the weather is like here while they are anywhere from New York to California.
“This system this is part of the National Weather System, will get a lot more use because it is more accurate with more information. It will promote safety, which is the number one priority,” Noteboom said.
“Pilots are more confident coming here from Ohio or Indiana because they know exactly what it’s doing here, they can look it up.” The information can also be of great value to farmers managing agriculture, boaters, sports fans, those with gardens and marine and outdoor activities.
When President Trump flew into Grand Rapids for a rally last week, it triggered a 32 mile circle of no air traffic around Air Force One wherever it is in the air. To notify all pilots of the directive or other circumstances they should know of, the FAA has a Notice to Airmen network that all pilots check before taking off, where they learned of the ban on flying in this area from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., the time the president was in the area.
Photos: (upper left) David McIntyre, left, and Mark Anderson, vice president of the Hastings Flying Association, examine the new Automated Weather Observation System just installed at the airport.
(middle left) Airport Manager Mark Noteboom adjusts the lighting on the monitor of the new Davis weather system.
(middle right) The Davis Automated Weather Observation System at the airport, part of a nationwide system.
(lower right) A wind indicator built by the Hastings Flying Association back in the day.