Monday, April 22, 2024

Pender County’s Henderson Field Airport set for $6.9 million expansion

The airport's impact on the local economy has more than doubled in recent years.

The Henderson Field Airport expansion will include extension of the airport's runway to 5,500 feet and the relocation of Wallace Airport Road and Old Mill Road. (Port City Daily/Photo courtesy of Henderson Field Airport)
The Henderson Field Airport expansion will include extension of the airport’s runway to 5,500 feet and the relocation of Wallace Airport Road and Old Mill Road. (Port City Daily/Photo courtesy of Henderson Field Airport)

BURGAW — The Henderson Field Airport is set to undergo a $6.9 million expansion, according to a release from Pender County on Wednesday, which will include the extension of the airport’s runway to 5,500 feet and the relocation of Wallace Airport Road and Old Mill Road.

Pender County announced the expansion in conjunction with this Tuesday’s release of the 2018 State of Aviation report by the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation.

“We should see land purchases begin in the last quarter of 2018 or the first quarter of 2019,” said Pender County commissioner Fred McCoy, who also serves on the airport commission. He also added that the $6.9 million will come through the STIP (State Transportation Improvement Program).

Pender County director of tourism Tammy Proctor said the NCDOT is upgrading the airport from a red to blue status, meaning it will now be a “reliever” airport that can handle more corporate, farming, and emergency aircraft.

“It means that we’re expanding our reach,” said Proctor.

Henderson Field director Gage King said the airport is in talks with Pender County to build water and sewage infrastructure to keep pace with the expansion, as well as one day building an industrial park.

The expansion, according to King, will substantially impact tourism and businesses in the region, noting that Henderson Field’s economic impact has grown from $2.74 million to $6.43 million over the last six years.

“We have people coming in constantly who are heading to Surf City and Wilmington, to avoid larger airports,” King said. “And businesses come in all the time making deals. I had a company come in a couple months ago, and they landed a $1.2 million dollar contract with a manufacturing facility in the area.”

As for specific expansion plans, King said the current runway length of 4,200 feet is a safety issue for most corporate planes. An extension to 5,500 feet will allow larger airplanes to fly into the airport and thus increase corporate travel.

King also said the road re-location must occur because of the runway’s close proximity to Wallace Airport Road and Old Mill Road.

NCDOT Director of Aviation Bobby Walston pointed to the strength of North Carolina’s aviation sector, which “continues to grow by leaps and bounds.”

“This report highlights why our state is an ideal location to start, grow or relocate an aerospace or aviation-related business,” said Walston.

“North Carolina has a strong presence in the field of aviation,” said McCoy. “We look forward to future growth at Henderson Field Airport and the economic impact the airport has on the region.”

According to the 2018 State of Aviation Report, North Carolina has:

  • 72 publicly owned airports, 10 offering regular commercial service
  • $31 billion in annual economic impact from airports
  • 56 million passengers and 700,000 tons of cargo moved by aircraft every year
  • 18,000 licensed pilots and 15,000 aircraft mechanics
  • 14,000 jobs in aerospace manufacturing and maintenance
  • 32,000 registered drones
  • 26 universities and community colleges that offer aviation and aerospace programs.

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