Cleveland Regional Jetport officially open

Cleveland Regional Jetport officially open

January 26th, 2013 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

Visitors sit in the waiting area of the new Cleveland Regional Jetport Friday afternoon in Cleveland, Tenn.

Photo by Connor Choate/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND REGIONAL JETPORT

* KRZR: FAA designation

* Concrete runway: 5,500 feet long, 100 feet wide, 35-foot-wide taxiway, 311,452-square-foot apron, LED runway and taxi lights

* Terminal building: 8,000 square feet, fireplaces, waterfall, wood furniture

* Cost: $42 million

* Location: 251 Dry Valley Road NE, Cleveland, Tenn.

* More information: 423-472-4343; http://www.krzrairport.com/

Photo by Laura McNutt/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - The first 24 hours of operations at the Cleveland Regional Jetport buzzed with activity with the arrival of 13 aircraft and an estimated 600 visitors, airport officials said Friday.

The $42 million airfield -- identified as KRZR by federal aviation authorities -- went live at 3 p.m. Thursday. On Friday, the facility's 8,000-square-foot terminal hosted invitation-only and public grand opening events.

"It's an exciting day which has been greatly anticipated," Cleveland City Manager Janice Casteel said. "We're very proud of our new front door."

Visitors expressed delight with Cleveland's new facility, which replaces Hardwick Field.

"It's a fantastic place to fly into," said pilot Clay Derryberry, who manages an airfield in Middle Tennessee. Derryberry made the jetport's first night landing Thursday.

Bill and Amy Gray, of Cleveland, praised the aesthetics of the terminal, which looks like an upscale East Tennessee chalet. Bill Gray said he had done some line work for the airfield's fuel tanks.

The terminal's design, unveiled just over a year ago, was a product of a shared vision, said members of the airport's terminal design committee, who offered tours and information to airfield visitors.

"We really had a vision -- the same vision -- from the beginning," said designer Nancy Casson. "We drove all around Tennessee and picked out the best of certain things we liked about other terminal buildings."

The facility, which boasts a wall of flat-screen televisions, three conference rooms and a plush pilot's lounge, is decorated in earth tones and adorned with high-end oak furniture. It also has lots of spacious windows for viewing the surrounding countryside.

The airport ultimately is expected to cost Cleveland about $5 million, airfield consultant Gloria Malone said. That estimate is based on factors including federal and state grants, the expected sale of Hardwick Field and private sponsorships of the terminal, she said.

Lou Patten, vice chairman of the Cleveland Municipal Airport Authority, said the project began nearly 10 years ago. The decision to build a new airfield came down to being able to buy enough property on Dry Valley Road and not being able to acquire property to expand the old airfield's 3,300-foot runway.

The next big step for the new airport will be the construction of 20 hangars for aircraft owners, said Taylor Newman, director of operations for Crystal Air, which provides operational services for both airfields. Hardwick Field, established in 1955, is now closed to "transient flights," meaning that only aircraft now based there may use the facility.

"It took a lot -- underscore 'a lot' -- of people and a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make this happen," said Mark Fidler, director of marketing and operations for the Cleveland Regional Jetport.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.