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HILLSVILLE — As increased traffic takes flight at Twin County Airport, officials at the facility expect to have a modern terminal to welcome pilots by the end of 2013.
Tom Jones, chairman of the airport commission, stood in what is now the parking lot last Friday and pointed to a flag by the recently built commercial hangar.
That flag marks the southern end of where the 4,000-square-foot terminal will go, taking up much of the asphalt area outside a low chainlink fence.
A terminal that dates from the launch of the airport in the 1960s and a trailer that serves as an office will be replaced by the new building.
Though construction has been delayed a bit by a permit issue with the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Jones feels confident that the task can still be completed by December.
The commission tried to push ahead with the terminal project in 2005, but that effort got supplanted when the Federal Aviation Administration made the runway safe area project the priority at the regional airport.
Jones ascribes the current increase in traffic at the airport to a variety of fixed based operator services provided by Twin County Aviation and Bryant’s Helicopter Services.
The $1 million terminal will provide a convenient place for visiting pilots, airport representatives, local officials and business representatives for different activities.
Jones can see economic development officials meeting with business prospects in the conference room, for example.
Pilots will be able to freshen up using the rest rooms.
“We’re going to have a nice facility,” Jones said. “We’re about the last airport in the area to get a new terminal, so it’s been a long time in coming in my opinion.”
The next project the airport commission members expect to tackle is extending the runway to 5,000 feet to allow small corporate jets to land.
No longer do Jones and other officials want to have small jets divert to New River Valley or Mountain Empire airports because Twin County Airport’s runway is too short for them to land safely.
Jones appreciates the FAA, because the federal agency supplies a lot of funds to make improvements to the local facility.
“They’re good to us,” he said. “I tell you what, they put a lot of money into the Twin County Airport.”