Where there is rich history, you’ll find folks who strive to keep it alive. David Kirkpatrick is one of those people, living out his passion for aviation within his community in Castroville, Texas.
As the airport manager at Castroville Municipal Airport (KCVB), Kirkpatrick maintains the 458-acre historic landmark alongside his only employee, a 69-year-old maintenance supervisor. The small but mighty team handles everything at the full-service general aviation airport, from the building and hangar maintenance to the aircraft refueling, concierge support, and sometimes even the janitorial services.
More importantly, however, Kirkpatrick and his seasoned sidekick are ensuring the local community never loses its strong ties to aviation history. As the former site of a strategic landing strip for Kelly Air Force Base, KCVB was later donated to the city for public use in 1949 after the military discontinued its use of the field. Kirkpatrick honors that history any chance he can get by showcasing World War II planes, including his own 1946 Taildragger that he built from the ground up and flew to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, with his 16-year-old son for this year’s annual EAA (Experimental Aviation Association) AirVenture air show.
The airport also partners with organizations like Dream Flights University, a nonprofit that trains and prepares volunteer pilots for honoring military veterans and seniors with flights on World War II biplanes. Perhaps KCVB’S biggest nod to local aviation history is yet to come, as Kirkpatrick hopes to soon open an aviation museum at the airport. “I want to introduce aviation to anyone who has an interest in it,” he said. “With a museum, we could introduce folks to all aspects of aviation.”
The community of Castroville is very aviation-centric, according to Kirkpatrick, and would appreciate a place where the local elementary and high school students could learn about aviation, its history in Castroville and impact on the economy. “Aviation is not just about luxury travel, but it’s also transportation. It’s how you get your mail, your Amazon packages, and ultimately, it keeps our world moving,” he added.
With the right investor, he hopes to build the museum near the airport’s terminal building, where parking is available and there’s enough space to accommodate at least a 5,000-square-foot facility. Kirkpatrick envisions the museum modeling after the famous EAA Aviation Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, or the U.S. Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker, near Daleville, Alabama.
“I enjoy aviation,” he continued. “I’m retired, so I’m just out here to keep aviation alive. If someone shows up and has interest, I’m happy to take them out right then so they can experience the joy of flight.”
Kirkpatrick’s love of flight is only matched by his love for his community. In fact, he has made the airport home to the local EAA chapter of Young Eagles, a program that has dedicated more than 25 years to giving youth ages 8–17 their first free ride in an airplane. Later this month, the local Young Eagles chapter will join Kirkpatrick and dozens of other pilots for the 2nd annual Taildragger and Swine Tasting Fly-In on November 6. Kirkpatrick expects about 30 planes to participate in the all-day event where the community comes out to eat roasted pork and watch World War II Taildragger biplanes and other general aviation planes fill the skies above Castroville.
That connection to the community is one of the many reasons the non-towered airport has remained successful throughout the pandemic. Despite rising fuel prices, KCVB’s fuel and jet sales are up from the year before, and the airport has added five brand-new 4,800-square-foot executive hangars, all privately owned—with immediate plans to build a new nine-unit hangar to accommodate the added business. “That’s on our hot seat right now,” he said referring to the new hangar.
Just 20 miles from downtown San Antonio, KCVB draws a steady stream of traffic from those who need to visit the city for business, but don’t want to deal with the big-city lifestyle. The airport offers two courtesy cars and keeps a full-service jet ready for flights, when needed. Not to mention, KCVB doesn’t charge landing fees, keeps the fuel competitively priced and offers Phillips 66® Aviation-branded fuel.
“It’s been a great experience,” he said, referring the airport’s recent switch to Phillips 66 Aviation fuel. “We were looking for a partnership as opposed to a vendor, and we absolutely got that.”
To learn more about Castroville Municipal Airport, please visit castrovilletx.gov