Family Day at jetport will not be held

Mar. 28, 2013 @ 08:44 PM

With construction of a new runway at the Raleigh Executive Jetport not slated to be finished until September, members of the Sanford-Lee County Airport Authority reluctantly voted to cancel its annual air show Thursday.

Family Day @ the jetport, along with the airport's lease agreement with the North Carolina Forestry Service, were among the items discussed during the authority's meeting.

None of the authority members wanted to postpone the yearly event, said Airport Manager Brad Womble, but felt they had no other choice.

"For us to update and fix our runway, there is no other way," Womble said. "It's just the timing. The following year, we'll be able to show our new facility off to everyone and it will be a better place and better venue."

The authority was told in November it received a $4 million grant, thanks to a $400,000 required match, to repave and resurface the runway at the airport. Construction is set for early July and will be completed by September, Womble said. The airport will be closed for first 50 days of construction, he added.

Airport Authority Chairman Carter Keller said he hated to postpone the Family Day event, which features flying acrobatics and stationary aircrafts for viewing, but it was the right decision.

The annual event is usually held in the fall.

Forestry Lease

Robert Gron, of the N.C. Forestry Service, said after two years of discussions, his department agreed to a long-term lease with the local airport for hangar space.

"It's been a long road to get here," he said. "I am pleased to say the N.C. Council of State has entered into a lease and the state property office expiated getting the lease out."

The contract will be for 30 years at $110,000 per year, with the rate increasing by 9 percent every three years, said Lee County Manager John Crumpton, who serves on the Airport Authority. The pilots will also purchase fuel from the airport.

"There will be six planes plus two helicopters based here," Crumpton said. "We also know the facility will be used for central maintenance, which means planes from New Bern to Asheville will be coming here for maintenance."

The added maintenance will add close to seven or eight jobs and positively impact the local economy, Crumpton said.

Womble said he was very glad the Forestry Service chose Sanford to house its Central Carolina airplanes.

"The airplanes and helicopters at this base are going to be great for everyone," he said. "It will boost the local economy as well as bring jobs to the airport and heighten the sales for the fuel."