Big Jet Lands on Holley Mountain

The largest aircraft ever to land in Van Buren County, a Falcon 20 twin-engine jet, touched down atop Holley Mountain for a ''smooth as silk'' landing at 7:59am, Tuesday, May 16.  

The plane, with a gross take-off weight of 28,660 pounds, is 56' 3" feet in length, has a 53' 6" wing span, is 17' 6" tall and is owned by the Acxiom Corporation in Little Rock.  Piloted by Walt Petersen, the aircraft was on a routine maintenance and test flight to check the performance of newly installed engines before making a scheduled flight to New York later in the day.

''We needed to get in a landing or two, so we decided to come in here,'' Petersen said.   He noted that the 50' x 4800' blacktop Holley Mountain Airpark runway, which made its official debut as a public airport just 7 months ago, is the only airstrip in Van Buren County where a jet with the weight rating and size of the Falcon 20 can land safely. 

Petersen, who is the chief pilot for Acxiom, said he was familiar with the Holley Mountain airport facility because he and spouse Linda are full-time residents of the Airpark community there. ''Acxiom has three private jets,'' said Petersen, ''and they are all based out of Little Rock. So I just kind-of commute back and forth in my personal plane from here and it works out pretty good.'


 Above: Because the Falcon 20 has no ''reverse,'' a volunteer ground crew had to swing the plane around to head it back toward the runway.

The Falcon 20 which Petersen landed at Holley Mountain was originally manufactured in France during1981 by the Dassault Falcon Jet Corporation. ''From there it would have been flown 'green' to the Falcon Jet Completion Center in Little Rock,'' said Timothy Posey, manager of Arkansas Airframe.

''Green,'' said Posey, ''is the way the plane comes out of production with a primer coat of green paint, nothing in the interior and a plug-in temporary instrument panel. All that's inside a 'green' plane is a seat for the pilot.'' 

Posey added that for some time all Falcon jets were manufactured in France and flown to the company's Little Rock facility for interior finishing, instrumentation, and custom exterior paint. ''Even the ones that were built for delivery back in France had to come here to Little Rock for finishing,'' Posey said. He added that while many Falcon planes still travel this international completion route, the company now has at least one other finishing  facility. 

Referencing published data on Falcon jets, Posey went on to explain that with this particular model of Falcon jet, each engine has roughly 4500 pounds of thrust and a top speed of roughly 610 miles per hour, or 0.89 Mach, which is 89 percent of the speed of sound. The empty plane weighs 17,500 pounds, can carry a maximum payload of roughly 12,000 pounds, may be equipped for up to 14 passengers, and has an average range of 1800 miles. 

Posey commented that after taking off from the Little Rock Airport on Tuesday morning, the Falcon 20 climbed to cruising altitude, passed over Jonesboro, and landed at Holley Mountain 20 minutes later. The direct flight from Holley Mountain back to Little Rock took only six minutes. 

''That may be the fastest trip anyone has ever made from here to Little Rock.'' Jim Collom, Holley Mountain Airpark owner and developer, laughed. ''We knew on Monday that the plane would be coming in Tuesday,'' Collom said. ''So we did make a few special arrangements to celebrate the event.'' Collom referenced a group of a dozen aviation enthusiasts who had gathered for the landing and take-off, including the presence of John Hastings of Clinton Cable, who provided a ''cherry picker'' hydraulic bucket truck to take high-angle photos of the plane on the ground. 


Above: JoAnn Collom takes a wild ride, courtesy of John Hastings, to grab a few high-angle photos of the Falcon 20.

Holley Mountain Airpark, billed as ''a community for the future,'' celebrated its public debut in October of 1999. However, due to Collom's penchant for state-of-the-art technology, Arkansas' largest Airpark is already upgrading. The lighted MIRL asphalt airstrip is being outfitted with state-of-the-art multiple stage runway lights.

 ''It's either 3, 5, or 7 clicks.'' Collom explained slated improvements to the pilot operated runway lighting controls. He noted that a set of ''huge'' strobe lights, Halibrite CD-600 REIL (runway end identifier lights), which enable pilots to find the end of the runway during times of low visibility, have already been installed on Runway 23 and Runway 5. Also, glide slope PAPI (precision approach path indicator) lights are on order for Runway 23. In addition, Collom plans to integrate a separate operational frequency for the control of Airpark heli-pad lights, adding even greater flexibility to the pilot-controlled lighting schematic.

''If a pilot comes in and doesn't need the REIL lights on, but wants the runway lights on at high intensity or low intensity, it will be controlled right from the cockpit,'' Collom said. He further explained that this type of technologically sophisticated lighting control gives each pilot the ability to brighten or dim selected runway lights by ''clicking'' a button in the cockpit, thus improving visibility in relationship to landing conditions and ultimately produce safer landings.

''But the beauty of it is, you don't feel like you're at an airport. We're marrying a lot of different things together here. One thing is this view,.'' Collom beamed. 

Above: The Falcon 20, parked on the Jetway Blvd. Taxiway. 

Perched at a 1270' elevation, atop the scenic and secluded Ozark mountain from which the Airpark gains its name, the 200-acre development is laid-out to offer a total of 45 residential tracts by completion. Three-acre to seven-acre homesites, featuring underground utilities and starting at $49,000, are snuggled into dense hardwood and pine forests. 

''You can see 20 nautical miles from the crest of Jetway Boulevard.'' Collom continued, explaining that because each platted parcel has taxiway access to the runway, the construction and installation of utilities is a lot like fitting together a massive jig-saw puzzle.

As example, Collom cited the installation of a new residential water main and fire hydrant system to serve a new section of the development. He explained that the final run of wiring to taxiway lights, which are already installed, must wait to be completed in conjunction with excavation and trenching work for the new water lines.


 Above: Ken Lemings, Party Chief with Tim Tyler Surveying, Mapping, and Engineering, of Greenbriar, Arkansas, works his way into the woods, siting a line to begin development of the residential lots and taxiways in the northern section of Holley Mountain Airpark.

Below: Luke Cowsert, Instrument Man with the survey crew, adjusts computerized cartographic equipment.

 "Everything we've done here at the Airpark has been in concurrence with FAA and other governing regulations,'' Collom assured, crediting a measure of this accomplishment to the high standards of the contractors he works with. 

Loy Dewey Construction and Excavation of Clinton, which has been involved with the Airpark's development from day-one, stands at the top of this list, said Collom. ''Loy's  been by my side the whole time. We walked through the woods together in 1993, with the idea of building just a grass runway here, on top of this mountain.''

 ''He and his crew are back on the mountain now, completing the foundation work on Cheyenne Lane Taxiway, as to connecting it into Runway 23 near the threshold,'' Collom said. ''They also are working on our drainage throughout the southridge area along the taxiways,'' Collom continued, ''and doing further clearing of the runway right-of-way to be in compliance with FAA requirements for GPS Instrument approach.''

 ''Dewey and his team are like family,'' Collom continued. ''They've made this project their own. They work it like they own it, and they'll be working with us until the last culvert is laid and the last blade of grass is planted.''

 Collom also lauded praise on Tom Flemming, an independent carpenter and all around construction worker who has provided extensive service to the Airpark and to the individual property owners who are building homes and hangars there. ''The way things keep going, I don't know if Tom will ever get done working on this mountain,'' Collom laughed.

 A third key contractor, Tim Tyler Surveying, Mapping, and Engineering, of Greenbriar, has also been involved with the Airpark since the inception. In addition to working on septic system installation specs for individual Airpark property owners, the firm did the survey for the entire Airpark, laid-out the plat for roadways and building sites, and is now in the process of doing the engineering plans for the new water-line.


 Above: Fred Ballard, Survey Technician with Tim Tyler Surveying, Mapping, and Engineering, of Greenbriar, Arkansas, checks the set-up of a GPS (global positioning satellite) survey unit. The GPS unit bounces a signal off a satellite that is picked-up by others GPS stations, 50 miles away. By triangulating the data gathered with these instruments, the exact latitude, longitude and elevation of the Airpark runway is quantified to prepare the airport for instrument landings by aircraft.

''With the work done last week, we know within 400-thousands of an inch, as to where each end of the runway is located,'' Collom admired, noting that survey work on the Airport Master Plan for the final application to the FAA for Instrument GPS Approach landing certification is nearing completion.

In celebration of the development's ongoing success, a second annual open house and fly-in event will be held later this year, probably in September. As with last year, aviators, their families and friends are invited for a day full of ''Hollyefest'' recreational activities and aviation education on the park-like grounds of the flyers community.


 Above: Natural flora is abundant throughout the year in the lush Airpark setting, but shows its pristine glory most coquettishly in Springtime. 


The first Holleyfest drew a sizeable crowd and was created to be something of an ''extended family reunion for aviators.'' Focused on a ''Safety In Flight'' theme, aviation aficionados attending the celebration were entertained with horseback trail rides, horseshoe pitching, and ground transportation to Greers Ferry Lake for boating, swimming and sight-seeing. 

Educational activities at the1999 event included demonstrations of various aviation technology, an FAA sponsored ''piloting safety'' program, and a catfish dinner with featured speaker and close personal friend of the Collom's, Jim Burnett, former Chairman of the NTSB. 

Fly-in camping will be permitted during Holleyfest 2000, however due to the anticipated turn-out, pilots are advised to bring their own tie-downs. Also, reservations are recommended for the modestly priced keynote dinner. 

Holley Mountain Airpark is located northeast of Clinton, at the end of Hillyer Lane (County Road 118). The lighted MIRL 4800' x 50' asphalt runway, airport identifier 2A2, is at N 35, 39' 019" latitude, W 092, 24' 266" longitude, on headings 5 and 23, and has an elevation of 1270 feet. The airstrip is open 24 hours a day with pilot controlled lights and manned 8am to 5pm weekdays or by appointment on weekends. The Colloms reside on the Airpark grounds in their own custom built home. 

For more information about the residential Airpark and airport services, including the upcoming Holleyfest 2000 fly-in event, contact Jim Collom, (voice) 501-745-5300, (fax) 501-745-8888, email,  or visit the Website

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