Courtesy / City of San Antonio
Arriving at Stinson Municipal Airport's main entrance on San Antonio's South Side, visitors see signs for parking, helicopter tours, and Big Bib BBQ. But the roads near the nation's second-oldest continuously operating general-aviation airport don't indicate what's right down the street.
On Thursday, City Council unanimously approved funding for directional signs and entry monuments that will guide pilots, passengers, and other visitors to Stinson, which was established more than 100 years ago.
Two large monuments will be installed on Mission Road at 99th and Acequia streets. Two directory signs will show visitors where to park and walk to find the restaurant, tours, and the facility's administrative offices. Surrounding the airport's perimeter, 13 directional signs will show them how to get to ramps, terminals, and more. Signs for nearby tenants and streets also will be added.
Jerdon Enterprise was awarded the $371,371 contract. Most of the work is expected to be completed in about six months, according to City staff.
Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3), whose district includes the public airport, said efforts to make Stinson easier to find started in 2013.
"People try to find it, but it’s not easy to get there," Viagran told the Rivard Report.
The new signs will also bring "uniformity and consistency of design" to the airport's brand, Viagran said. Currently, the directional sign at the main entrance is hard to see from the road, and most services have their own separate sign.
But there are ongoing efforts to "make it more friendly for those who fly in," she said, and the nearby hike-and-bike trail on the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River will soon connect to Stinson's front door.
The airport, which serves civilian flights that aren't scheduled passenger service, typically sees more than 100,000 flights per year. In 2017, it saw 100,708.
A mural, part of an initiative to celebrate the nearby Spanish colonial missions' World Heritage status, was installed last year on Hangar 3. Stinson is located at 8535 Mission Rd. between Mission San Juan and Mission San José.
Construction on a new $5.7 million air traffic control tower is slated for completion this fall, and Federal Aviation Administration equipment should be installed by the end of the year.
Construction started in April 2017 after a competition for the tower design took place in 2015. That was instigated by Viagran and Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1), who stopped previous plans for the new tower and asked the City to look into a more thoughtful design. The local chapter of the American Institute of Architects then coordinated the competition with the City.
"[Stinson] is one of the best general-aviation airports around," said Treviño, who is a licensed architect and pilot who regularly uses the facility. "So anything that can ... help people find that airport and simply go visit is truly something [important]."
The signs' design is "reflective of the new tower," he said, noting the wing-like shapes on both the tower and signs. "[It's] another great example of how the future of San Antonio and the history of aviation can all be found right there at Stinson Airport. ... I look forward to flying at Stinson."
Though residents are more familiar with San Antonio's passenger airport on the North Side, Stinson is a "gem" of the South Side, Viagran said.
"We're also delivering on a promise to all of the residents in the area and also to former Councilman ... Reed Williams, who always told me never to forget Stinson Airport," she told her colleagues on the dais Thursday.
Later, she told the Rivard Report that she wants Stinson to see more traffic and "to be seen as another gateway for the city of San Antonio."