While we welcome efforts to save taxpayer dollars, we hope proposed moving of National Guard helicopters from the Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport will not adversely affect the airport’s efforts to build its contributions to the economies of Smyrna and the county.
Guard officials indicated that the proposed move resulted from the availability of operation and maintenance facilities in Nashville due to the loss of Guard C-130 aircraft there.
Guard officials said, however, that pilot training and similar operations with continue in Smyrna with the helicopters moving between the two locations.
Smyrna Airport officials have had to take a wait-and-see attitude, and we hope their patience is rewarded.
Announcement of the Guard decision came only a few days before airport officials learned they no longer were in the running to be the new site for the Commemorative Air Force headquarters, a move that definitely would have boosted the local economy. The CAF did not even hear the airport’s proposal.
Smyrna Airport, however, has been the beneficiary of some good news this year.
The federal government’s “sequester” as a result of an earlier fiscal impasse did not result in closing of its air-traffic-control tower, as occurred at other regional airports.
The airport has received support from Rutherford County, Smyrna and the Rutherford County Industrial Development Board in its efforts to develop further its economic-development role.
The airport has 90 acres on the east side of the runways for development, and this includes a six-acre solar farm and aircraft maintenance facilities. The west side of the airport offers a 400-acre office park, of which only about 50 acres have been developed so far.
Airport officials are working on to fund a $9 million project for an aircraft hangar, office space and site preparation with funding to come from the Federal Aviation Administration and the support of local governments.
Recently the airport received nearly a $1 million grant from the state Department of Transportation that with a local match will pay for paving, marking and lighting taxi lanes for the new aviation-development area.
If the Commemorative Air Force had taken time to hear the Smyrna Airport proposal, it would have learned about successful efforts to convert an abandoned Air Force base into an economic resource for Smyrna and the county and a transportation resource for the region. We hope these roles only will continue and grow.