What will $21.7 Million in Projects Look Like at Ridgeland Airport? Here are the Plans

Nov. 27, 2020

Nov. 27—The expanded Ridgeland-Claude Dean Airport in Jasper County is attracting more and different air traffic thanks to the continuing improvements to the site, the county said.

The new portion of the runway capable of handling turboprops and light corporate jets opened in January, and the jets have been bringing tourists, a boost to the economy. Most of the corporate jets that have flown into the airport have brought people for golf outings, Jasper County Administrator Andrew Fulghum said in a recent news release.

"They are able to fly on their own schedule, avoid layovers, come in to play a day or two of golf, and then fly home whenever they want," Fulghum said.

He said the county expects people will also fly in for hunting, shooting sports, and fishing.

"The casual fliers, the pilots who have enjoyed our airport for many years, continue to be a big part of our mission," Fulghum said. "They will have added conveniences with these airport improvements, and we hope they'll help spread the word among the East Coast pilot community."

The long-term project, which has been in the works since 2013, came with a $21.7 million price tag. Most of the funding, more than $19.3 million, came from Federal Aviation Association grants while $1,214,519 and $1,174,968 came from state and county funding, respectively.

Early stages of the project included assessments, planning and designing followed by three years of construction on the new runway and other elements.

Other improvements, which the county said should be operational within the next year, include an aircraft fueling station, Automated Weather Observation System, and an RNAV GPS instrument landing system.

"With (those) in place, pilots can travel here from halfway across the country, knowing we have the ability to refuel them for the return trip," said Danny Lucas, acting airport director for Jasper County.

The fueling station will also make it so piston and turbine aircraft, including helicopters, will be able to purchase fuel at the airport.

"When investors or companies want to come look at property for industrial or commercial development, it's all about convenience," Lucas said. "Having an airport capable of hosting the 'turbine crowd' means they can bypass airliner airports in Columbia or Savannah, and fly directly into Ridgeland."

There are also plans to add a 7,000-square-foot terminal building with a galley, conference room, waiting room, pilot lounge, bar and grill, aircraft observation area, and additional hangar space. A completion date for the building was not included in the release.

"We are building the Ridgeland-Claude Dean Airport not just for today, but for the next 20 years," Lucas said.


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