M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport

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M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport
Clark Taney Co Airport 6-1-09 by KTrimble.jpg
Aerial view, June 2009
Airport type Public
Owner/Operator Taney County, Missouri
Serves Branson / Hollister
Location Branson, Missouri
Elevation AMSL 940 ft / 287 m
Coordinates 36°37′33″N 093°13′44″W / 36.62583°N 93.22889°W / 36.62583; -93.22889Coordinates: 36°37′33″N 093°13′44″W / 36.62583°N 93.22889°W / 36.62583; -93.22889
Website [1]
PLK is located in Missouri
Location of airport in Missouri
Direction Length Surface
ft m
12/30 3,738 1,139 Asphalt
Statistics (2011)
Aircraft operations 11,200
Based aircraft 68
Sources: Airport[1] and FAA[2]

M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport[1][2] (IATA: PLKICAO: KPLKFAA LID: PLK) is a county owned, public use airport in Taney County, Missouri, United States.[2] It is located one nautical mile (2 km) south of the central business district of Branson, Missouri,[2] one nautical mile (2 km) northeast of Point Lookout, Missouri,[3] and a few yards west of the old downtown area of Hollister, Missouri. It was formerly known as M. Graham Clark Field – Taney County Airport.[3]


M. Graham Clark Field was originally developed as a private airport by the College of the Ozarks for use in their aviation science department, and was originally officially associated with the village of Point Lookout, Missouri, a small village on a bluff overlooking the White River Valley which was later completely bought out and overwhelmed by the development of the college. The airport identifier, PLK, was based on the name of the town officially associated with the facility under a federal grant through which the college originally developed the airport.

The airport was named after M. Graham Clark, the president of the college at the time the airport was originally constructed.

College of the Ozarks closed down its aviation science department in 2003. Shortly thereafter, the airport was donated by the college to Taney County so that the Branson and Hollister community would not lose its important general aviation airport.

A private entity had contracted with the college to provide commercial airline service to Clark Field, serving Branson, in the late 1990s, but the venture failed and the terminal building, fire department building, and associated ramp were turned over to the college. The airport currently does not have any scheduled commercial airline service. Since the opening of the newly developed Branson Airport and the construction of new terminal facilities at the Springfield-Branson National Airport there is no expectation of airline service at Clark Field.

Name confusion[edit]

The airport was named after a person, M. Graham Clark, and the donation agreement between the college and the county calls for the airport to always be named M. Graham Clark Field, though it is usually referred to as Clark Field, or simply as "Clark." The official Facilities Directory lists the airport under the name of the town it was originally officially associated with, Point Lookout, so some pilots will refer to the airport as "Point Lookout." The Kansas City Sectional Chart depicts the airport as "Clark–Taney County", but on two lines, so some pilots refer to it as "Clark County." Some local pilots refer to it as "Taney County." Some transient pilots associating the airport with the principal city of Branson refer to it as "Branson," despite the proximity of the newly developed Branson Airport about eight miles to the southeast. Most recently, there has been a proposal to officially rename the airport as "M. Graham Clark Branson Downtown Taney County Airport" as a marketing move to attract some of the low end corporate traffic from nearby Boone County Airport or the Branson Airport. Although the airport board has never adopted the proposal, many local pilots pushing for the change have been referring to the airport as "Branson Downtown" or simply "Downtown". The use of so many names for the same airport has also been known to cause radio confusion in dense traffic. It is not unusual for approaching traffic making an initial call to refer to the airport as "Clark Point Lookout Branson Downtown Taney County . . ." in an attempt to be specific, and use a shorter name on subsequent calls.

Facilities and aircraft[edit]

M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport covers an area of 40 acres (16 ha) at an elevation of 940 feet (287 m) above mean sea level. It has one runway designated 12/30 with an asphalt surface measuring 3,738 by 100 feet (1,139 x 30 m). A GPS Approach is published and runway is also equipped with a medium intensity approach lighting system.[2]

For the 12-month period ending December 31, 2011, the airport had 11,200 aircraft operations, an average of 30 per day: 96% general aviation, 4% air taxi, and <1% military. At that time there were 68 aircraft based at this airport: 78% single-engine, 13% multi-engine, 2% jet, and 7% helicopter.[2]

The FBO is operated by the Taney County Airport Board. Repair services are available from Branson Aircraft Repair, LLC. Helicopter charter, touring, and flight training are offered, as well.

General aviation traffic[edit]

Clark Field has at times been one of the busiest general aviation airports in the region. It was at one time ranked the fourth busiest airport by number of aircraft operations in the state of Missouri behind Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, Kansas City Downtown Airport, and Spirit of St. Louis Airport, outranking Kansas City International Airport and Springfield-Branson National Airport. The airport serves helicopter operations. Also, there is a substantial antique airplane collector on the field and the field is popular with other operators flying aircraft without radios. There is no control tower as it is an uncontrolled field. It is not uncommon for there to be several aircraft in the pattern at the same time.

Prevailing winds[edit]

The direction of the prevailing winds are typically from the north or from the southwest. The runway was constructed west-northwest and east-southeast due to the terrain, creating a prevailing crosswind. This "built-in crosswind" was considered a desired attribute when the airport was used to train pilots, allowing them to obtain extensive crosswind procedure training, although there were several relatively minor crosswind accidents.

2011 runway changes[edit]

Around March 10, 2011, the runway numbers at M. Graham Clark Field were changed from 11/29 to 12/30.[3]


This airport was free of any fatal accident history for several decades, but there have been a few fatal accidents associated with the field in recent years, including:

  • A homebuilt Tri-Q2 from Florida crashed shortly after departing the field in 2006. The cause was thought to be due to structural problems with the aircraft.[4]
  • A Piper PA-34 Seneca based in Texas crashed and burned after departure a few miles from the field (thought to be attempting to return to the airport for unknown reasons) in low weather, killing all four occupants, in 2006.[5]
  • A Piper Cherokee Six (PA-32) also based in Texas crashed in a ravine and burned, killing all five occupants, after a balked take-off that overran the east end of the field in 2004.[6]
  • A CitationJet (Cessna-525, or CJ1) crashed on approach to the airport in winter 1999. Approach Control had lost radar contact with the aircraft at 2,100 feet msl five miles from the airport. The crash occurred on a mountaintop about four miles west of the airport at about 1,100 feet msl "within 50 feet of the centerline of the instrument approach" but at an altitude several hundred feet below what was specified for that portion of the approach. There was significant public controversy associated with this accident. The aircraft was owned by the College of the Ozarks (which owned the airport at the time) and six employees and students of the college were killed. The pilot was also the airport manager and an administrator associated with the aviation science department of the college. Pilot fatigue was cited as a factor in the accident by the NTSB, possibly aggravated by toxicological factors and an alleged "feud" that the pilot was having with the FAA in the days leading up to the accident. It is thought {by who} that this accident was a factor in the decision by the college to phase out its aviation science department and donate the airport to the county.[7]

Other incidents at the airport include:

  • On January 12, 2014, Southwest Airlines flight 4013 from Midway Airport in Chicago, a Boeing 737-700, landed at Clark Field apparently in error instead of at the nearby Branson Airport. The runway at Clark Field is only 3,738 feet in length, more than 3,000 feet shorter than the runway at the intended airport.[8] The Boeing 737 carried 124 passengers and 5 crew members, and it was reported to have landed "safely and without incident". The aircraft was able to take off again the next day.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport". Retrieved October 19, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f FAA Airport Master Record for PLK – M. Graham Clark Downtown (Form 5010 PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Effective October 17, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "KPLK – M. Graham Clark – Taney County Airport – Point Lookout, Missouri". FAA Information Effective July 29, 2010. AirNav. Archived from the original on September 12, 2010. 
  4. ^ "NTSB Identification: CHI06LA268". NTSB. November 29, 2007. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  5. ^ "NTSB Identification: CHI06FA094". NTSB. November 29, 2007. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  6. ^ "NTSB Identification: CHI04FA205". NTSB. July 7, 2005. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  7. ^ "NTSB Identification: CHI00FA040". Accident Database & Synopses. National Transportation Safety Board. June 12, 2001. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  8. ^ Martin, Grant (January 12, 2014). "Southwest Airlines Plane Lands At Wrong Airport, Almost Careens Off Cliff". Forbes. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 
  9. ^ Welch, William M. (January 13, 2014). "Southwest suspends pilots after landing at wrong airport". USA Today. Retrieved January 13, 2014. 

External links[edit]