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Will business ‘take off’ for airports during eclipse?

Baker City airport expecting to see increase in traffic, La Grande expecting business to be pretty close to normal

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Union County Public Works Director Doug Wright said the La Grande/Union County Airport has received only one inquiry from a pilot interested in flying in for the eclipse (Cherise Kaechele)

Businesses in Union and Baker counties are bracing for an influx of people visiting Aug. 21 for the total solar eclipse.

Restaurants, hotels, service stations and grocery stores are all expected to do brisk business dealing with the estimated 50,000 people who are expected to visit. At least one other business is expecting a takeoff in traffic — literally — the Baker City Municipal Airport.

Genny and Troy Woydziak, owners of Baker Aircraft Inc., the airport’s fixed based operator, said they are preparing for a busy weekend preceding the Aug. 21 eclipse. Baker Aircraft is not charging for airplane parking and is not taking reservations.

“We have told people ‘first come, first served,’” Genny Woydziak said.

On a typical summer day, the airport has five to 10 aircraft landings and departures, Troy Woydziak said.

“(The number) coming in for the eclipse is hard to say,” he said.

In order to be ready for any scenario, the business has closed a runway that has space to accommodate as many as 600 parked planes.

The Woydziaks have also arranged to have aircraft fuel delivered on
Aug. 16 to top off the airport’s tanks. Fuel suppliers won’t be delivering from Aug. 17-22, Troy Woydziak said.

He said the airport’s septic tank was emptied in preparation for a possible influx of visitors.

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer