Paula Tracy WMUR 9
Berlin Regional Airport Eyeing Balsams Project Progress
April 1, 2015
  • Share
  • With almost a mile of runway, Berlin Regional Airport has been handling corporate and commuter-sized aircraft for decades.

    But mostly for refueling purposes.

    The potential for the re-birth of the Balsams has airport and city officials thinking about the future for the airstrip and how it could play a part in the plan.

    The runway, at 5,200 feet and 100 feet wide, is slightly shorter than Laconia by a few hundred feet, said Eric Kaminsky, airport manager. But it is the largest airport in the state north of Laconia.

    He is watching political and financial progress of the Balsams plan in the next two months. That will be the time frame for whether the Balsams expansion goes forward, this year, if at all.

    He said he is hopeful that the Balsams will succeed and there will be a return to more air landings and take-offs attributed to travelers to the Balsams.

    “The Balsams has always had a presence here,” he said.

    In addition to private aircraft, the air strip has landed many a Presidential candidate, including Barack Obama.

    In 2000, Vice President Al Gore flew in  on Air Force Two, which was at the time a DC 9, Kaminsky said.

    Depending on the turning radius, which is limited to 100 feet, the airport can handle a large plane.

    In the 1980s, due to a federal subsidy, lots of work was done on the air strip and there was commercial service, he said.

    But since then, this city-owned airport, located just over the city line, has been primarily a refueling spot.

    On Tuesday, there were no planes at the airport but two new refueling tanks with Jet-A Fuel.

    Located hard along the the  East side of the Androscoggin River, Berlin Regional Airport has provided military and civilian air service since the 1940s.

    It has room for expansion, and a new master plan, Kaminsky said.

    Balsams developer Les Otten, who used to keep a corporate plane at the runway when he was the owner of American Skiing Company, said he thinks that the airport can play a big role in the re-birth.

    While there is no car rental carrier at the airport, Kaminsky said rental car companies do leave vehicles at the runway for those flying in, now.

    “I’d like to see this happen,” Kaminsky said.