By KAITLYN NAPLES
Robertson Airport was closed for about 60 days while renovations were being made. It is now officially open for business, and town officials are hopeful the number of planes flying in and out of the municipal facility will increase.
The project, which is the first major project since the town purchased the airport in 2009, began in October, and came at a price of about $2 million, Town Manager Robert Lee said. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) covered 90 percent of the cost, the State of Connecticut covered 7.5 percent, and Plainville was left with 2.5 percent to cover. The town’s portion was already available in the airport fund.
The work performed, which was handled by Mizzy Construction, includes new drainage, new lighting, reconstructing part of the runway, and repaving the entire runway as well as sealing a large part of the “apron” area where planes are tied down.
“The renovations will enhance the facility, and hopefully attract more planes to fly in and out of the airport,” and possible be permanently stored there, Lee said.
He added that about 10 years ago about 100 planes were permanently placed at Robertson Airport, but because of the economy not as many people are flying, and now the airport has about 39 “tie-downs,” or planes that are there on a permanent basis. He said there were some other local airports that have closed in the last few years, so airport officials are hopeful that the renovations will bring in more customers.
Robertson Airport was purchased by the town in 2009, with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and some state grants paying for the most of the cost. It has a 3,600-foot runway, was built in 1911 and is the oldest airport in Connecticut. It has served more than just an airport to the town, having hosted community events including the first ever Wings and Wheels event last summer.
Lee also said airport officials are looking into getting a GPS approach system, which would allow for planes to easily locate the airport. Lee said this will be an ongoing project for the next year.
Interstate Aviation, Inc. is a Connecticut corporation that was established in 1971, and provides services to the General Aviation Community as the exclusive “Fixed-base Operator” at Robertson Airport. It provides aircraft rentals, maintenance, storage and fueling.
There will be an official ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new runway next week, but the airport is already open for business.
This year the annual Wings & Wheels event will be held again at Robertson Airport. Last year, the Wings & Wheels event brought in vintage cars, airplanes, helicopters and more which took over Robertson Airport. The aircraft and car show was formed as a fundraiser to benefit a local, community non-profit organization, the Plainville Community Food Pantry and the Petit Family Foundation. Last year the one-day event raised a total of $22,000, and donations of $11,000 each was made to each organization.
For additional information and updates on the Wings & Wheels event, visit www.plainvillewingsandwheels.com. For more information on Robertson Airport, visit www.interstateaviation.com.
By KAITLYN NAPLES