By Brian Livingston
MERIDIAN, MISS. — Drive down Highway 11 South alongside Key Field and it is easy to see airplanes sitting underneath an aging metal roof with open sides, exposed to the elements — and birds.
“Yeah, bird droppings aren’t a good thing for airplanes,” said Tom Williams, executive director for the Meridian Airport Authority. “We have been getting more and more requests for real hangers so owners can properly store their aircraft. Now we can honestly say, ‘Here we go.'”
The preliminary ground work has already begun on a section of land adjacent to the current hangers. When completed, the $1.7-million project will include five enclosed hangers. Williams said the project should be completed by the Christmas holiday season.
“Aircraft owners are very particular, as they should be with such an investment,” Williams said. “Plus, they wanted a place they could store their tools and other essentials, so enclosed hangers was a must.”
Federal, state and local funds will fund the project. Williams said the MAA’s share comes to about $318,000, which will be paid through fuel sales.
Each hanger bay will span 35 feet deep by 45 feet wide. Davidson Hauling and Construction, a Meridian company, is doing the construction work.
“Local companies doing local work,” Williams said. “If at all possible that is what we try to do so we can keep people here in Meridian working.”
Williams said one of the hangers is already assigned to the University of Mississippi’s AirCare medi-vac helicopter stationed at Key Field. He said the other four hangers will be rented out to private aircraft owners and operators.
Williams did not say how much the rental will be on the bays.