LaFayette airport eyes new terminal

LaFayette airport eyes new terminal

September 4th, 2010 by Andy Johns in News

Staff photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press - Sep 2, 2010 Keith Barlow fuels his plane outside the terminal of the Barwick-LaFayette Airport while his friend, Gary Gadberry and airport operator Cecil Whaley, left, watch.

Staff photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press...

LaFAYETTE, Ga. - When pilots visit as many airports as Keith Barlow, they get to know the good airports and the bad ones.

Barlow, who was fueling up Thursday at the LaFayette Barwick Airport as part of a trip from Queensland, Australia, said airports with nicer terminals and facilities get more visits.

"It's like any other business," Barlow said in his clipped Aussie accent. "It makes a difference."

Dr. Paul Shaw, chairman of the airport's board, said the airport is applying for a $500,000 Georgia One grant that would help build a new terminal, which Shaw hopes will make that difference to flyers.

"We are 20 years out of date," said Shaw, a physician in LaFayette.

The airport in LaFayette has the oldest terminal in the area, according to Shaw. Calhoun, Dalton, Rome and McMinnville have all built new terminals since LaFayette's was built in the 1980s.

Initially, airport staff and city officials told the Times Free Press and other media that the grant was to build a fence around the facility to keep out deer. Shaw apologized for the confusion and set the record straight, explaining that the fence project would come from additional funding and the grant they are seeking would go to build the new terminal.

The new terminal would be V-shaped and have more room for automated equipment and visiting pilots, Shaw said.

The current terminal, which would be torn down along with a hanger to make room, has termite problems in addition to other issues. Shaw said it needs updates to meet federal regulations, including an additional light on the tower.

Federal inspectors would "have a field day" at the LaFayette airport, he said.

Chattanooga pilot Gary Gadberry, who was traveling with Barlow, said the terminal could help make a much better first impression.

"The terminal is the front door to the city," Gadberry said. "If (visitors) see a modern, nice building, they're much more likely to have a good memory of LaFayette and Walker County."