Although Paulding County’s airport northwest of Atlanta has been getting lots of attention lately for its plan to attract commercial airline service, there are several other small airports in the metro area that are used every day by businesses, pilots, flight schools and public safety services.
“There’s a huge economic impact that unless you work in general aviation or your business depends on general aviation, you may not be aware of it,” said Selena Shilad, executive director for the Alliance for Aviation Across America. “There are a lot of important services as well that depend on general aviation, and when those service providers cannot get out of major commercial airports it makes a lot of sense for them to use those general aviation airports.”
Hartsfield-Jackson International, the world’s busiest airport, remains the behemoth of Georgia generating $58 billion in economic output. Georgia’s public general aviation airports, totaling 95, generate $1.2 billion.
Paulding County’s airport this month revealed a plan to attract limited airline service. That’s not the case for these other metro Atlanta’s small airports. Still, there’s plenty going on at these sites. Here’s a breakdown of six small airports within 30 miles of downtown Atlanta.
Opened: 1959 as a general aviation airport
Businesses: Epps Aviation, Signature Flight Support, Atlantic Aviation
Flight activity: 145,444 takeoffs and landings in 2012
Users: Southern Co., Waffle House, Quikrete
Economic impact: $211.7 million in total economic output
Latest: Building 53 hangars on the site of the former fourth runway. Construction for the $8.25 million project started in February and is set to be complete in December.
Also, Southern Airways Express in September started public charter flights from PDK on nine-passenger single-engine Cessna Caravan planes. The carrier launched flights to Memphis, Birmingham, Destin and Panama City.
Briscoe Field (Gwinnett County)
Businesses: Gwinnett Aero, Aircraft Specialists, ImagineAir, Georgia Jet
Flight activity: 78,810 takeoffs and landings in 2012
Users: B & G Development, High Roller LLC, Burgess Information Systems
Economic impact: $85.4 million in total economic output
Latest: After years of debate, county officials last year voted to keep Briscoe Field controlled by the county rather than becoming privatized. A company called Propeller Investments wanted to privatize the airport with a plan to bring commercial flights, but the plan was voted down and Propeller officials have turned to Paulding County’s airport for development.
Separately, Briscoe Field is rehabilitating a taxiway and adding LED lighting to lower utility expenses, with the help of a $1.4 million federal grant along with some state and local funding.
McCollum Field (Cobb County)
Businesses: Atlanta Executive Jet Center, Elevation Chophouse restaurant
Flight activity: 61,709 takeoffs and landings in 2012
Users: NetJets, Bank of America, Clorox Services Co., aerial tours, flight schools, charter operators
Economic impact: $112.4 million in economic output, with 842 jobs dependent on airport activity
Latest: A new $2.6 million air traffic control tower is planned for completion next year, paid for with federal and county funds. Customs will be added in summer 2014, allowing international flight arrivals. The county also plans a $1.5 million project to extend taxiways next year to improve safety and efficiency.
Charlie Brown Field (Fulton County)
Businesses: Hill Aircraft & Leasing, Signature Flight Support
Flight activity: 50,912 flights per year
Users: Coca-Cola, Home Depot, SunTrust, Koch Industries, Fuqua, Genuine Parts, Cox Enterprises, Fulton County Police Department, Georgia Aviation Authority
Economic impact: $158.6 million in economic output
Latest: A $5 million aviation-themed cultural center is under construction.
Atlanta Regional Airport (Peachtree City – Falcon Field)
Businesses: Falcon Aviation Academy, Silver Ace Aviation, Precision Air Services
Flight activity: 50,517 takeoffs and landings annually
Users: Corporate users include Chick-fil-A. The Great Georgia Air Show held each October with 25,000 attendees
Economic impact: $142.6 million in economic output
Latest: The airport two years ago completed a runway extension to over 6,000 feet and plans a $2 million repaving of the runway this spring
Tara Field (Henry County)
Opened: 1967 as Bear Creek Airport.
Businesses: Hale Aircraft, National Aerotech, Bob’s Flight School
Flight activity: 29,800 operations annually
Users: Gresham and Associates, Davis Development, Pep Boys, Cracker Barrel, Crown Royal, NASCAR teams and spectators going to Atlanta Motor Speedway
Economic impact: $25 million total economic output
Latest: Henry County bought Tara Field from Clayton County in 2011. This year, the airport completed a $3 million runway expansion to make the runway 5,503 feet long and 100 feet wide, along with additional taxiways and runway lighting.
Sources: Georgia Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, airports, staff research