Officials at the Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport say construction will be completed in time for Masters Week traffic.
Photo by Elwood Hamilton
THOMSON - When Augusta airports get overloaded come Masters time, McDuffie County will be glad to pick up the slack.
Scheduled to be completed March 20, the new additions to the Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport include a terminal, an on-site fire station, a large common space for pilots and flight crews and a conference room.
Needless to say, Thomson city officials are giddy over the thought of Masters air traffic spilling into McDuffie County.
"Well last year we had a significant increase in Masters traffic, and this year we're in a better position to help relieve the traffic into Bush Field," said James Lyle, the fixed based operator and owner/manager of the Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport. "We have been designated a true regional airport so we serve multiple counties. We're probably the fastest regional airport to the (Augusta National Golf Club)."
The $1.3 million project, which has been in the works since July, has paved the way for several new technological improvements to the facility.
"We've replaced the entire runway lighting system so it will be a high-intensity landing system, and we now have taxiways accommodating both sides of the runway," City Administrator Bob Flanders said.
The high-intensity lighting system will allow pilots to better see the runway during take off and landing, and it makes the airport an all-weather facility. In addition to new lights, the runway has been enlarged to expand craft capacity.
Flanders said the Thomson-McDuffie facility, because of its new additions, definitely has a leg up on some of the airports in the Augusta area.
"The one in Aiken does not have an ILS (Intensive Landing System), so it can't accommodate all weather," he said. "Downtown, Daniel Field has limited runway space.. ."
Lyle said he believes the common space for the pilots will be one of the airport's most impressive additions.
"We have a large flight-planning room, showers, amenities, a catering kitchen, sleeping rooms and pilot lounge," he said.
Lyle and Flanders also stressed that the airport will properly promote Thomson-McDuffie County.
"The terminal's main room will feature different elements of the community itself, and we'll have a series of displays that will promote our local industries," Flanders said.
While the airport only accommodates private traffic at this point, construction of the terminal has allowed room for future expansion.
"We're adopting a new airport layout plan, and it calls for the future addition of hangar space for commercial as well as small aircraft," Flanders said.
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