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The 23 new T-hangars recently finished at the Rocky Mount-Wilson Regional Airport were leased before they were even completed.
“There was a pent-up demand for hangar space,” said Dion Viventi, airport director. “No new hangars had been built out here for 20 years. There are plenty of pilots that need hangar space in the area. The biggest news is filling all these hangars up before we had them completed. That’s a pretty big deal.”
It cost $3.5 million to build the hangars that each bring in $300 a month in rent — or $6,900 each month collectively.
The hangars are funded through $20 million in capital improvement projects granted for federal, state and local government funds.
Viventi said the hangars are “like the Taj Mahal of T-hangars.”
“They’ve got beautiful concrete sidewalks wrapping all the way around them,” he said. “They are all guttered into the storm drainage system. They are insulated. They have epoxy painted floors, electrical outlets inside and there’s free Wi-Fi, not to mention all the doors are electric.”
The hangars are within view of a new self-serve fuel farm, so pilots can just taxi right up for fuel.
“Pilots can arrive any time of the day, any day of the week, or in the middle of the night or on Christmas Eve and fuel themselves with a credit card, just like at the gas station,” Viventi said.
The facility has aviation gas for regular piston aviation gas-powered airplanes and Jet A fuel to fill a large jet’s tanks.
A new 1,500-square-foot storage building for airport maintenance equipment is currently under construction.
PLT Construction of Wilson is the contractor for the hangars and maintenance building, and First Petroleum built the self-service fuel farm.
Viventi said the next phase of the airport master plan is building corporate hangars.
Viventi said the airport is speaking with prospective tenants who want to park larger planes at hangars to be built at the airport.
One prospective client has a Gulfstream III jet that he’d like to base at Rocky Mount-Wilson.
“He wants to build a hangar here, so we are just trying to work out a great location for him,” Viventi said. “This will be the largest aircraft ever based here. He also wants to buy a Gulfstream V and base it here as well.”
Corporate aircraft like the Gulfstream V, with a range of more than 7,700 miles, are capable of flying nonstop from Wilson to Japan or India.
Vivente said the appeal is the airport’s 7,100-foot-long, 150-foot-wide runway.
“Well, we’ve got a beautiful runway, brand new, and it’s very long, so large aircraft are safe to fly in an out of here because it’s got the runway length,” Vivente said. “Plus, it’s a safe airport.”
The airport just earned a FAA Southern Region Safety Award last month for general aviation airports that exceed all safety recommendations and go above and beyond with an exceptional demonstration of meeting Federal Aviation Administration safety criteria.
“I am too proud for words to describe how much we have been able to accomplish,” Viventi said. “My team and my staff have made it happen.”
Viventi will present a director’s update to the Wilson County Board of Commissioners in November.