Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Aviation Week in Georgetown County is in full swing.
This week, through Aug. 23, residents are encouraged to recognize the many contributions aviation makes to the economic stability of South Carolina and the quality of life of residents here.
Georgetown County Council proclaimed this week Aviation Week in the county, which coincides with Aviation Week throughout South Carolina.
The public is invited to the Georgetown County Airport, located at 129 Airport Rd., south of Georgetown city limits on US 17, for a celebration of Aviation Week at noon on Fri., Aug. 22.
Howie Franklin, former Air Force One steward will be guest speaker. He is the only flight attendant to ever serve five U.S. presidents consecutively.
County Administrator Sel Hemingway reported to the council, Aug. 12, that, “aviation has been a part of Georgetown County life since the first airplane landed near Willowbank in 1911.”
“The county’s two airports are active in the support of businesses as well as the growing population and tourist industry; and the two airports create 47 jobs, house more than 40 aircraft and create an economic impact on the county in excess of $3 million.”
He added that businesses and tourists depend on the general aviation airports of this county to transport people and goods to all parts of the country.
“Our airports support and assist Georgetown County, the State of South Carolina and even the United States by providing service to the military, medical transport, accommodating agricultural spraying and providing access to emergency equipment in time of disaster,” Hemingway stated.
This information is also part of the proclamation.
The county’s other airport is Robert F. Swinnie Airport, located at 11920 Gapway Rd. in Andrews.
Richard Westfall, airport manager for both Georgetown County airports, said, “A lot of people don’t realize how much money the airport brings into the county. It is part our infrastructure.”
Including a multiplier effect, the airport tenants and visitors at the Georgetown County Airport generate $3.4 million in total economic output, according to the S.C. Department of Commerce.
Of that amount, $1.2 million in payroll is paid to 47 full-time employees.
“As direct and indirect impacts are released into the local, regional and statewide economies, additional multiplier impacts are created,” the S.C. Department of Commerce explained in a brochure about the economic impacts of the airport.
“Multipliers that are specific to South Carolina were used to complete the economic analysis.”
Westfall said that people don’t realize the number of corporate airplanes flying in and out of the airport.
“Seventy-five percent of our traffic comes from jets and turbo planes,” Westfall said.
“You’d be surprised by the big-named individuals who come through the airport. If the airport wasn’t here these people who own homes and businesses here would own homes and businesses somewhere else. They want airport access.”
The Georgetown County Airport currently has 51 based aircraft.
It has recently had renovations in several areas, Westfall said.
The airport now has a new terminal building, a 6,000-foot runway, a new hangar for corporate aircraft, a new taxiway, with run lights, that runs parallel to the runway from end to end, new instrument approaches which enable airplanes to land with lower ceilings and lower visibility, and a new parking area.
They are also working to add new hangars to store more planes and setting up the whole airport to run off generators so it can continue operating in case of a hurricane or other natural disaster.
“If we do have a Category 3 or 4 hurricane, supplies for the area can come in by plane,” said Barry Brock, fixed base operator with Seven Rivers Aviation at the Georgetown County Airport.
The airport offers a staging area for military exercises such as hurricane simulations, he said.
The airport hosts the Young Eagles program, which allows teens interested in flying the chance to go up in a plane, and the Angel Flight program which allows people with severe illnesses to be transported by plane for treatment.
It also participates in a dog rescue program called Pilots and Pets.
Westfall said the U.S. Coast Guard refuels at the airport during training exercises in Winyah Bay every week.
To find out more about the Airport, call 843-545-3526, or visit www.georgetowncountyairport.com.