Drastic increase in private air traffic expected at Riverside Airport starting Sunday

The Highlights
  • Tulsa Riverside Airport is the busiest airport in the state.
  • The airport is expecting a 25 percent increase in air traffic due to the PGA Championship.
  • "This will be one of the busiest times we've ever seen in airport history."

JENKS, Okla. — The busiest airport in the State of Oklahoma is about to get even busier starting Sunday and lasting for around a week once people begin arriving for the PGA Championship in Tulsa.

The airport is expecting a 25 percent increase in air traffic, and flight schools have been told to alter the way they do business while the airport deals with a PGA surge.

“This will be one of the busiest times we’ve ever seen in airport history,” RVS Airport Manager Austin Wheeler told FOX23.

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Wheeler said the air traffic will increase starting on Sunday, but the noticeable effect on the ground operations won’t happen until Monday.

“The athletes that are competing will likely all arrive on Sunday, and they will arrive on private jets and after dropping them off, those planes will leave,” he said. “It’s the fans and spectators flying in on their own that will start to get here on Monday is when you will start to see the ramp fill up.”

The airport is still open to everyone, but a notification of special intentions must be filed with the flight plan for anyone coming into RVS so parking arrangements can be made for their airplane, especially if they are staying long term.

“We will ask people arriving if you will be staying for the entire tournament and if we can tuck your plane away in a spot where you may not be able to use it for a few days if you are staying for the whole thing,” Wheeler said. “It’s going to be like Tetris with airplanes trying to get everyone parked.”

In order to accommodate the influx of planes, flight schools have been told they can still take off and land at RVS, but they need to practice their maneuvers and lesson plans at other nearby airports like Sand Springs Pogue Airport and Okmulgee.

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“There will be peak surge times where our taxiways will be full of people waiting to depart or people waiting to get to their parking spot,” Wheeler said. “In order to try to keep the wait times down, we just asked the flight schools to use nearby airports for the actual teaching, but they can still takeoff and land here.”

While RVS does not have a cell phone lot, Uber and Lyft drivers are being told to wait nearby because their services will likely be needed by pilots, fans, and families.

If you are hoping to catch a view of some celebrity golfers, Wheeler said spectators need to note a few things. Golfers like Tiger Woods are actually using private aircraft services at Tulsa International Airport and then taking private transportation to Southern Hills. Also, many athletes are using private planes that cannot be tracked on flight tracking software app, and so figuring out when they are coming and going will be nearly impossible. It will be easier to encounter celebrities at the golf course and even randomly around town when and if they visit any local points of interest.

“You’re better off trying your luck in and around the golf course,” Wheeler said. “Your chances here [at RVS] are slim. and that chance won’t last long at all even if they do fly through here.”