The Hunter Brothers
KSAR maintains the historical importance of aviation days gone by. The Sparta, IL area was host to the 'Hunter Brothers.' True Barnstormers of the 1920s and 1930s, the Hunter Brothers taught themselves how to fly, entertained crowds, and are most famous for pioneering the concept of aerial refueling, in which they stayed aloft for approx. 23 days straight in 1930. They were also good friends with Charles Lindbergh, who would frequent the Hunter's house for Sunday dinners, as legend has it.
The businesses on the field help to support and grow the airport, and the airport helps to grow the businesses. Arch Air Ambulance has a helicopter base at the south end of the field, and provides life-saving services to the immediate area. Their geographic position in Sparta is critical to their response time to a patient, as well as their ability to access smaller hospitals in the region - and the larger facilities in St. Louis.
Sparta Aero Services, Inc. is integral to the Airport's operation. They are contracted not only to provide FBO services, but to manage the airport as well. The staff at Sparta Aero oversee the day-to-day operations at the airfield, maintaining the facilities and ensuring safety. They also coordinate maintenance & construction projects with the Airport Board, Engineers, Contractors and State/Federal Agencies. As for the FBO services, Sparta Aero provides fuel sales, aircraft rental, flight instruction, aircraft sales, a full-service aircraft maintenance shop, and oversee the leases for the 30+ aircraft that are based at KSAR.
In addition to the daily activities, Sparta Aero always welcomes local daycare, primary, and college students for an educational field trip opportunity. They also host several community 'Fish Frys throughout the year, as well as their big annual (and free) 'Flight Fest' in the fall that draws hundreds of spectators and other pilots. The Flight Fest is a great opportunity for the general public to get up-close-and-personal with their local airport and pilots. There are food vendors, craft vendors, local businesses, activities for the kids, and even Young Eagle rides.
KSAR is a great stop for student pilots from all directions. The airport is used daily by the students at SIU- Carbondale, Parks College, SWIC, Airgo out of Centralia, and of course by the students at Sparta Aero. The airport has a 4000' paved runway, but is very proud of it's nearly 3000' turf runway that gives pilots the opportunity to practice take offs and landings on a 'soft field.' Many pilots take advantage of KSARs location as a lunch stop or as an overnight stop on a X/C trip. The area around the airport has dozens of restaurants and several hotels to fill those needs. Each Memorial Day, a group of volunteer pilots gather at KSAR to perform a fly-over for memorial services at a large local cemetery. In addition, the Sparta Training Area, an Illinois National Guard Base is a mere 1/2mi to the west of the airport, and hosts/fuels many of the helicopters when needed.