Shelby County Airport taking flight

The Shelby County Airport is undergoing a major expansion, with the soon-to-be completed addition of a building housing 12 hangars and another building waiting to be constructed.

County Facilities Superintendent Terry Franklin, whose office is based in the airport, said the hangar building currently being constructed is 85-90 percent complete and could be finished as soon as next month.

Franklin said he gets calls daily asking when the building will be complete.

“(The pilots) are pretty excited about it,” he said.

Franklin has a pretty good reason for hoping the hangar building will be completed soon and that another building, currently in the final contract stages, will be constructed right behind it.

The 24 hangars the two buildings will house have already been spoken for, and there’s even more names on a waiting list for hangar space.

Once those buildings are completed, that’s just more revenue waiting to pour in, Franklin said. Right now, the airport has 100 total hangars of different types, which bring in $5,500 a month for the county. The addition of 12 hangars will bring in $3,100 extra per month, he said.

“There were people who wanted to be here and we wanted to accommodate them,” he said. “(The waiting list) has really grown in the last year. We went from having 10-12 names to now.”

Franklin said he feels the expansion is necessary to keep up with Shelby County’s growth.

“I guess the first word that pops in my mind is accessibility. I’ve had people say, ‘Why should we invest so much in the airport? How does this really benefit the county?’” he said. “You’d be surprised how many flights come through here that really have nothing to do with local people. It brings in a lot of revenue for the county.”

The airport, located in Calera, sees approximately 20,000 flights per year.