Rosecrans Memorial Airport is one of the largest viewing sites in St. Joseph for the total solar eclipse Aug. 21.
But instead of driving through traffic to get there, some people are planning to fly in for the big event.
Gary Patterson, who is the president of Express Flight at Rosecrans, said he has received calls about ramp space for eclipse weekend from people who own small general aviation aircraft. Since January, even owners of some large corporate jets have inquired.
“We are expecting probably upward of 200 aircraft on the ramp already,” Patterson said. “Just from the sheer number of contacts with people interested in coming to the airport, I think it probably will be the biggest event that we’ve ever seen here at Rosecrans. Without a doubt.”
Express Flight typically handles between 50 and 80 planes that fly in to watch the Sound of Speed Airshow, which brings thousands of visitors to the local airport.
Patterson believes the eclipse is a “very unusual situation.”
“In this case, we’re having people call every day inquiring about ramp space and airports in the area,” he said. “Not only is St. Joseph going to be affected, but airports in Cameron, Maryville, Hiawatha, and Falls City. All these airports are going to get an influx of traffic, I’m sure.”
Patterson said that the airport in St. Joseph will remain open for arrivals and departures during eclipse day. He believes some pilots are planning to fly in the path of the moon’s shadow during the total phase to increase its duration.
“Again that will be somewhat dependant on the level of activity of flights in and out of the airport,” he said. “It’s going to be an astonishing event regardless of where you’re observing it, but certainly an aerial view of it would be quite enticing.”
The office at Rosecrans indicates that about 150 vehicles and RVs have reserved camping spots. There are 1,000 total spaces.
The airport also has a total of 5,000 parking passes for eclipse day. Only 600 have been sold.