Local News

Idea of New Sanford Airport Taking Off

Posted December 2, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Sanford has an airport. It's not huge. It services small to mid-sized airplanes. Talk of building a new airport has been flying around Sanford for years with significant opposition to the idea at first. Now, construction has started. The question is, why?

Welcome to final approach at the Sanford-Lee County Regional Airport, an airport that won't be completed until spring of 1999. The whole project costs a whopping $13.7 million dollars. And while most of that will be paid with state and federal money, $715,000 dollars will be split between taxpayers in Lee County and the city of Sanford.

With Sanford's current airport located 10 miles closer to town and only a little smaller than the proposed airport, why build a new one?

"The current airport is not adaptable to the needs to serve as a reliever airport for Raleigh-Durham and the general aviation aircraft," explains Herb Hincks of the Sanford Airport Authority.

Relief for RDU? It's an interesting reason to build an airport according to fixed base operators at the international airport. They say they don't need relief now and won't need relief any time soon.

"As far as ramp space and runway capacity, we have plenty of that," says Gary Wilser of the Raleigh Flying Service. "And 1999 should be the same? In 1999 the situation will improve somewhat. We'll have new facilities by 1999 which will increase our capacity."

Still, the new Regional Airport is on the way. Sanford airport authority members admit it was a tough sell, and they continue to insist that the new airport will help the area take off.