County celebrates renovated airport

Published 8:24 pm Monday, April 13, 2009

Renovations at the Shelby County Airport will make it one of the state’s most inviting places to fly in and out from, say pilots and county leaders.

Shelby County Aviation Association members and the Shelby County Commission gathered Monday to celebrate the airport’s $800,000 makeover.

“We think this is going to be the premiere general aviation airport in Alabama,” said Rick Kilgroe, SCAA president. “This is the culmination of a tremendous amount of work.”

County employees have been working for months to improve the airport and make it more welcoming for visitors.

“We’ve waited a long time to be here,” said County Manager Alex Dudchock.

The renovations include a new lobby, bathrooms, and break room.

There are also plenty of amenities for both general aviation and corporate pilots.

A new weather station with computers and maps can be used for flight planning. There’s also a bunker room for pilots to sleep in before logging more hours in the sky.

“This is now one of the best kept secrets around,” said Kilgroe.

But county leaders hope the airport won’t stay a secret for long.

The airport now features a state-of-the-art conference room that leaders hope will be used to help recruit business.

“Today is just the beginning,” said Dudchock. “Now when we have someone come into our county to look at properties, we have a meeting space for them.”

Before, business leaders or those looking to develop in Shelby County had to be taken into Calera or nearby Alabaster and Montevallo.

“Now, we have a meeting space commensurate to what we want their first impression to be,” Dudchock said.

Shelby County has been running the airport since April 1, 2007. Before then, a private company managed the airport.

More than 50 planes pass through the airport on a given day.