Don Laferty

Don Laferty, airport board member, checks out the newly- installed AWOS (Automated Weather Observation System), an automatic sensor that provides important weather information for pilots.

An automatic weather reporting service is now available for aircraft utilizing the Morehead-Rowan County Clyde A. Thomas Regional Airport.

Known as “automated weather observation system” (AWOS), it is an automatic sensor providing important weather information for pilots.

The system provides wind speed, direction and gust, visibility, temperature, humidity, sky conditions, and altimeter.

AWOS was installed at a cost of $140,000 and was financed with a grant from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

“We are grateful to bring such an addition to our airport,” said Don Laferty, a member of the airport board. “It will greatly increase both flight safety and efficiency.”

In February, All Weather Inc. of California installed the AWOS equipment at the airport. It requires a transmitter that is located near the east side of the runway.

The transmitter transfers weather information to a computer system in the airport office. The information is then displayed on screens throughout the airport.

After installation, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had to inspect and observe the system before it was allowed to go into operation.

AWOS was licensed for use in November.

Typically, pilots will utilize AWOS using phone or radio.

Pilots can listen to the AWOS information on their cockpit radio that may reach a distance of up to 60 miles.

If away from their radio, they may use a telephone to gain access to the system.

AWOS is not limited to recreational flight. Other professions are able to take advantage of the system.

“Emergency transportation such as PHI (medical helicopter) also are using the AWOS,” said Laferty. “It's useful for farmers and other jobs in which preparing for the weather is vital as well.”

The AWOS also sends information to the National Weather Service (NWS) in Jackson. This allows them to more accurately report the weather in the area.

The airport has been showing signs of growth over the past few years. In addition to AWOS, more new hangars will be built in this spring.

Due to this growth, the FAA has decided to give the airport a different identifier.

Previously recognized as “M97”, the airport will now be known as “KSYM”.

“This will open the airport up for more types of business,” said Laferty. “Airports with numbers in the code are typically smaller airports. Those without numbers tend to be larger and offer more services.”

Now that the airport has been given a new identifier along with the other advancements, Laferty knows airport business will increase.

“We will see a lot more planes stopping here now instead of looking for other airports,” said Laferty. “Pilots also will stop here to fill up with gas which puts more revenue back into the airport.”

Morehead-Rowan County Airport AWOS can be accessed by calling 780-0279 or going to


Brad Stacy can be reached at or by telephone at 784-4116.

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