By BRIAN HUGHES
When Emerald Coast Aviation became Crestview Bob Sikes Airport’s fixed-base operator, providing general aviation fuel, maintenance and hangar services, firm president Jonathan Dunn promptly started dreaming of erecting a bigger, better and better-equipped passenger terminal.
In a year or so, he expects his dream will become a reality.
“We’re going to break ground on the first of January and we’re still continuing the research on putting a small restaurant out here,” Dunn said. “We haven’t made a final decision. We’d really like to put it out here, but we need to do more market research.”
Dunn said the airport’s location a 17-minute drive from downtown Crestview could be an impediment to drawing patrons to an airport restaurant, despite the romance of watching planes come and go while enjoying a burger. However, no definite decision has been made yet whether to include a restaurant or not, he said.
“I would always appreciate local input,” Dunn said.
Residents’ ideas for menu selections and operating hours are encouraged, Dunn said.
In addition to a large public lounge, preliminary plans include a larger pilots’ lounge, a new parking lot and a courtyard. Emerald Coast Aviation offices will also move from the small current terminal to the new building, Dunn said.
No decision has been made about what to do with the existing terminal, which is attached to the company’s hangar, he added.
Emerald Coast Aviation recently brought aboard Gary Hamilton as the company’s new director of maintenance and operations, and has become a Cirrus Aircraft authorized service center, Dunn said.
“We’re allowed to provide factory authorized service to Cirrus Aircraft owners,” he said. “We can provide any needed warranty service.”
The company also continues its popular flight school, offering a all-inclusive private pilot training package, Dunn said. With its Redbird flight simulator, licensed pilots can work on their next level of certification. New pilots can also gain valuable air hours by practicing in the simulator.
Dunn invites interested members of the public to visit Emerald Coast Aviation and inquire about aircraft rentals, flight lessons or simulator flights.
In September, Dunn and his team will welcome members of the business community for the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Business After Hours gathering.
On Nov. 3, the public is invited to Emerald Coast’s second yearly fly-in event, a free afternoon of food, music and airplanes.