LaFayette Airport upgrades completed

LaFayette Airport upgrades completed

January 16th, 2013 by Mike O'Neal in Local Regional News

Work on the new terminal at Barwick-LaFayette Airport should be finished tomorrow or Friday.

"The building is coming along," airport manager Phil Shelton said last week as a tile inlay of the city's "Queen City of the Highlands" logo was being installed.

Shelton said the 2,600-square-foot bungalow-style building with many interior walls of glass is more than double the old terminal's size.

Not only is the new facility bigger, it is also better in nearly every way, he said.

"The best thing is it will offer more space and be more comfortable for those who fly in and out of LaFayette," Shelton said.

The general public will see a spacious reception area, a separate room for flight school students and instructors and a porch that faces the tarmac.

The new facility also includes a conference room, something the airport's manager said has been needed for a long time, which will allow businesses to conduct meetings without having to leave the airport.

Another welcome addition for corporate clients is a dedicated lounge for pilots and air crew, one that includes shower facilities, a break room and a flight planning area.

Paving the parking area has been delayed due to recent rains, so a ribbon cutting and open house will be announced in the weeks ahead.

This project, with a total cost of nearly $625,000, was paid in large part by a $500,000 OneGeorgia grant awarded in 2011.

The airport was originally built in 1954 by E.T. Barwick, president and chairman of Barwick Industries, hence the name.

Barwick Industries was at one time the world's largest manufacturer of tufted carpet and the LaFayette airport was part of that success.

"I've been told he would fly DC-3s into LaFayette, fill them with carpet and fly them to Detroit for use by the auto industry," Shelton said.

Though the Barwick plant closed years ago, the general aviation facility has continued operations without interruption.

The runway was lengthened by about 700 feet in 1999, and about three years ago its 50-foot width was expanded to 75 feet.

Two tee hangars, each capable of housing 10 aircraft, were added about a decade ago, and the field's runway lighting and communications systems have been upgraded.

Today, the field is capable of handling anything but commercial jets and will sometimes handle as many as 10 business or recreational flights a day.

Shelton said he and long-time employee Cecil Whaley are pleased with the new building and its modern amenities. And while it should make Barwick-LaFayette more attractive for corporate clients, the modern terminal will maintain its tradition of offering novices and veteran pilots a place to gather and share stories about their love of flight.

"One thing we're looking forward to is putting the porch and its rocking chairs to good use," Shelton said.