MADRAS, OR -- The Madras Airport is creating a temporary city, of sorts, in preparation for this summer’s eclipse; and Airport Manager Rob Berg says they’ll make another 1500 campsites available for reservation, this week. The airport is located just northwest of downtown Madras, along Highway 26 and some consider it the best of the best for viewing the eclipse, which is expected to last about two minutes.
Airport Manager Rob Berg says they've spent several years planning for August 21, 2017. "Our first contact was back about four or five years ago with NASA and OMSI, when they brought it to our attention that this was happening and Madras was going to be a ground zero point, that they were going to recommend people come and see because of the great weather and the chances of us being as clear as possible," Berg tells KBND News. "We started quite a while ago, arranging for the infrastructure that we were going to need for fencing to protect the airport, port-a-potties, garbage services, setting up the campground and the planning for parking this many airplanes."
He expects between 300 and 500 planes will fly in that weekend for the event. "We’ve got people coming from as far away as Hong Kong, Japan and China; Australia, New Zealand, and then we’ve got from all over the United States – Several coming in from the Los Angeles area that we don’t know their names; they’re not going to tell us yet. So, who knows who that could be." But, he's cautious about that many aircraft in the municipal airfield. "The other part that we want to remind people if they’re flying into Madras, to please get ahold of us ahead of time, because as this fills up on the air-side, we can only handle so many airplanes." He adds, "There are no plans, at this time, to have any closed airspace. But, what we might have to do is close the airport, itself, if it gets unsafe; if we have too many trying to arrive at the same time."
The airport initially made more than 1500 temporary RV and tent sites available for overnight camping, from Thursday through Tuesday. The eclipse takes place Monday morning. Berg says those are nearly all reserved and he’s getting ready to open up another 1500, this week. They may be some of the only lodging options left for those who don't yet have a reservation. Berg says, "It’s amazing the interest and how fast the Forest Service and State Parks have filled up. And, that’s part of this, there’s such a demand for it. There are a lot of private areas that are opening up around Madras as things are getting filled up. But, here at the airport, we’re just expanding as we need to, to make sure we can accommodate the people who want to come to Central Oregon and have a great time." He’s bringing in food vendors, live music and even movies for those staying overnight.
Dry camping is available at $125 a night for RVs, $50 for a tent spot; discounts are available for those staying the full weekend. To make a reservation, call the airport at 541-475-4899, reservations can also be made by emailing Tracy@BergAir.com or Airport@ci.Madras.or.us.
Just four days after the eclipse, the Madras Airport will host the annual Airshow of the Cascades.