Murfreesboro Airport Receives ‘2023 Airport of the Year’ and ‘Outstanding Contributions to General Aviation’ in Tennessee

Mar 14, 2024 at 05:39 pm by WGNS News

L/R Mayor Shane McFarland, Chad Gehrke, Airport Director, Randy Hudgings, Board of Directors Member, TN Aviation Association, Cannon Loughry, Murfreesboro Airport Commission Vice Chair.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -  The Murfreesboro Municipal Airport has received high marks in recent weeks. Murfreesboro Assistant City Manager Sam Huddleston told WGNS News...


MORE DETAILS: The Murfreesboro Airport Director Chad Gehrke recognized the City Council’s support and funding of the City’s growing airport as factors contributing to being named the ‘2023 Airport of the Year’ by the Tennessee Aeronautics Commission. Gehrke and Murfreesboro Airport Commission Vice Chair Cannon Loughry presented the award to Mayor Shane McFarland during the March 14, 2024, Council Workshop meeting at the airport.


Also, the Tennessee Aviation Association (TAA) recognized Airport Director Chad Gehrke for Outstanding Contributions to General Aviation in Tennessee. The awards were officially presented to Gehrke March 5, 2024, during the annual Tennessee Airports Conference.

“This Airport of the Year award is a credit to the airport team,” said Mayor Shane McFarland. “On behalf of the City Council, I want to recognize Chad Gehrke for his outstanding leadership and attention to detail in coordinating with numerous partners to improve operations and safety at our airport. Our team continues to show how hard work and dedication to excellence leads to recognition from the aviation community.” 

“Our team is grateful and very proud of this recognition from the Tennessee Aeronautics Commission of the Tennessee Department of Transportation,” said Murfreesboro Municipal Airport Director Chad Gehrke. “As in any large endeavor, it’s not one person but many people who should be commended for the work resulting in this recognition. That includes the Airport Commission, City staff, elected officials, and expertise from consultants.”

The Murfreesboro Airport was recognized for a number of projects that have been completed over the last few years which include:

  • New Business Center and Terminal

  • Completion of a Safety and Capacity Study

  • Installation of the first aircraft operations data counter in the state (Virtower)

  • Successful application to the FAA to be included in the Federal Contract Tower program

  • Completion of a major airfield pavement repair and rehabilitation project

  • Purchase of properties in the Runway Protection Zone

  • Completion of a Tennessee Economic Development Project which included the construction of a 19,000 square foot hangar and offices to assist in additional job creation and expansion of aircraft maintenance and avionics business

Also mentioned was the FAA formally recognizing the Murfreesboro Airport Oct. 17, 2023, with the Federal Aviation Administration Southern Region General Aviation Airport Safety Award at their annual conference in July. The award was presented to John Saalwaechter, Tennessee Department of Transportation Director of Aeronautics, on behalf of the airport.

Murfreesboro joins recent Award winners in Tennessee, including Upper Cumberland Regional Airport (2022) and Nashville International Airport (2021). Previous Airport of the Year Award winners are available on the Tennessee Department of Transportation website at

The recognition of Airport Director Chad Gehrke and his contributions to General Aviation in Tennessee was also presented by the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Aviation Association (TAA). The TAA assists the 74 General Aviation airports and their staff with state agencies and elected officials on matters dealing with General Aviation airports. Gehrke is past president of the TAA and currently serves as the Secretary on the Board of Directors.

Gehrke stated, “Tennessee’s General Aviation airports are extremely important to the economy not only for the communities they serve but the entire state with an economic benefit of $20.5 billion according to an economic impact study conducted by the State of Tennessee in 2019,” 

Adding, “These airports located all over the state are home to air ambulance operations, create thousands of highly skilled jobs, and are where our nation’s next generation of pilots are trained. They also serve as a critical link in the supply chain for companies like Nissan and General Motors.”


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