By Tom Lockie
The Fernandina Beach Airport has over 7.2 million dollars in projects underway to insure it stays ahead of current and future infrastructure needs while maintaining an operations tempo of 4,179 takeoffs and landings in the month of May 2022 alone.
According to Nathan Coyle, Fernandina Beach Airport Director, the airport has 6 new hangar units in 2 buildings currently under construction with a 01July22 projected completion date.
The newest city fire station is now under construction at the airport entrance. The primary purpose of the station will be to support the local community. Fire station personnel will also train in aviation response with a dedicated entry gate onto airport property. Ground breaking was in April, and the projected completion date is March 2023.
FHB Aircraft Hangars LLC signed a ground lease agreement with the airport and completed construction of 3 hangar units in the Spring of 2021. Additional hangars by the company are currently under review. Landmark Modernization Contractors just signed a ground lease in April for the construction of a private 3,500 square foot hangar. Requests for hangar units for private aircraft by individuals has soared in recent years. Additional hangars are slated for construction each year for the next few years, starting with an FDOT grant approval this Fall to begin planning for the construction of more hangars. Good news for the 65 individuals on the hangar waiting list.
Currently in the bidding process is a project to rehab a portion of the transient ramp area where charter and private transient aircraft operate. The project has a cost estimate ranging from 1.2 – 1.35 million dollars and has a projected completion date of mid-February 2023.
Funding for airport projects comes from three major sources – Grants from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), as well as revenues generated by the airport. In the case of private hangars like the FHB Aircraft Hangars LLC hangars, a ground lease is established (a revenue generator) and the private company then foots the bill to build. The airport also receives revenue from property leases with private entities located along the airport boundaries, and with the City of Fernandina Beach.
Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport was originally developed during World War II by the United States Navy and served as a naval aviation training facility.
The airfield was used by the Navy for F-4U Corsair training as well as Atlantic Coast Ocean Surveillance Operations. The architecture of the welcome center, in the shape of an F-4U Corsair, gives a nod to the airfield’s beginnings.
Following World War II, the Airport facilities were transferred to the City of Fernandina Beach in accordance with the provisions of the U.S. Surplus Property Act of 1944. This transfer, which occurred on July 10, 1947, provided ownership of 1,116 acres of property along with all buildings and airport improvements to the City of Fernandina Beach.
After a recent extensive airport tour, I can attest to the fact the airport is in fine shape and positioned to serve the needs of both local and visiting users. KFHB (aviation vernacular for the Fernandina Beach Airport) is being run efficiently and with great attention to detail. The airport staff takes their fiduciary responsibilities seriously and are keen on providing the best bang for the buck with all projects and operations.
Excellent facilities and staff with easy driving or flying access in and out. No wonder KFHB is indeed “the little airport that can”!
Tom Lockie is the Transportation and Travel Editor for the Citizens Journal Florida. A veteran and recently retired airline Captain, Tom considers aviation and travel his ongoing passions . Tom is a published author, featured in the USA Today for his children’s book “Come Fly with Me”