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Hangar space in demand at airport

Microsoft Word - 2013 List of AccomplishmentsBy MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

 

New River Valley Airport continues to have “a long standing waiting list” for hangar spaces, with 49 aircraft based out of the Dublin facility, according to airport manager Keith Holt.

In a list of accomplishments at the airport for the 2013 calendar year, Holt reports that the airport handled 25,000 pounds of airfreight, primarily for Federal Mogul, TRW and Volvo Trucks North America, throughout the calendar year.

New Tech Aviation added a second aircraft to its flight school and Holt said he continues to work with local businesses, governments and economic developers to encourage U.S. Customs to re-staff the Customs office at the airport. The Port Director retired in April and Customs decided not to fill the position.

However, New River Valley Airport Commission member Doug Irvin Sr. told Dublin Town Council recently that Customs continues to maintain the office there. “They’re not going to staff it, but they’re going to expand the area they cover – all the way to the Tennessee line,” he noted.

The airport also has its first jet (valued around $1 million) housed there, according to Irvin. He said that “makes a big difference” when dealing with federal aviation officials because it tends to give the airport more clout.

The airport also pumped over 72,000 gallons of fuel during 2013. Irvin pointed out the airport commission receives 25-cents per gallon pumped to help offset costs to localities with ownership in the airport. The commission consists of the counties of Pulaski, Montgomery and Giles, the towns of Dublin, Pulaski and Christiansburg and Radford City.

The Goodyear Blimp also is becoming a frequent visitor to the airport, having made two overnight stops there during 2013. “They have pretty much made us a permanent stopping point when they’re traveling between Ohio and Florida,” said Irvin.

“It’s good for the economy because even though that little basket under (the blimp) is small and you don’t think there’s a lot of people involved with it, they have chase car crews that travel with it,” Irvin told council. The chase crew consists of a tractor-trailer and bus with about 15-20 people.

“When they come into town they’re hopefully eating in our restaurants,” Irvin added.

Also during 2013:

•An environmental study for the future taxiway extension was completed with no significant impacts found;

•Dublin volunteer Fire Department hosted a General Aviation Firefighting Training Course at the airport;

•A grant was obtained from Virginia Division of Aviation to upgrade the airport’s weather reporting system (to be installed during 2014);

•Trees were removed near the runway to prevent possible obstruction of aircraft;

•Two zero-turn lawnmowers were purchased with state grant funds to improve mowing capabilities and quality around the runway and taxiway lights, and

•The snow plow and dump truck support vehicles were equipped with yellow vehicle safety light bars purchased from Virginia State Surplus, Holt said, “for a fraction of the cost of new lights.”

“A lot of improvements going on out there,” Irvin told Dublin Town Council. He noted that improvements in for form of a new roof and siding is coming soon to the large hanger visitors see upon arriving at the airport. He added, “That’ll be a nice addition to look at when you first approach.

“We have an excellent manager out there,” Irvin said of Holt, who was named to the Virginia Airport Operator’s Council board of directors during 2013. “He’s a super aviation guy and I know he won’t be here long; he’s too good.”

Irvin said he is hopeful the airport will be able to hang on to Holt “a couple more years,” joking that if so the airport will “probably end up being called Roanoke, Blacksburg Dublin Airport.”

He was referring to the fact Roanoke Airport recently was renamed Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport.

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