July 23, 2024

Hundreds Attend Airport Ribbon-Cutting

st mary's airport

There were multiple reasons for last week’s celebration at St. Mary’s County Regional Airport, hosted by S. Hunt Aero. There was the opening of a new taxiway, expansion of Patuxent Aero Solution’s engineering and fabrication facility, the new flight training school GT Aviation, new hangars, the University of Maryland UAS Test Site, and the Technology Incubator under construction. But what it looked like was a day of fun.

More than 325 people attended what was formally billed as the ribbon-cutting at the taxiway. But the real stars of the day where 10 remarkable aircraft parked for visitors to see up close and, for many of the aircraft, a chance to climb aboard. Among the aircraft on display were the  Sea Harrier, an L39 Albatross (both owned by Nalls Aviation), a Robinson 44 helicopter, a gyrocopter, a vintage Stearman biplane, Lambada motorglider, and a BD-5 micro jet, the lightest jet ever made. Charlie VandenBossche also had his Aerostar Yak 52TW that he refers to as “The Romanian Mistress”.

The University of Maryland UAS Test Site enthusiastically provided support space and had  their unmanned aerial vehicles on display. Staff was there and glad to answer questions. A small vehicle was launched from the foundation pad of the future Technology Incubator location and took great near overhead pictures. “The economic promise of linking all of these unique assets, both from traditional aviation and now the autonomous technologies, puts us on the cutting edge of a new frontier,” said Matt Scassero, head of the UAS Test Site.



St. Mary’s County Commissioner Todd Morgan with a BD-5 micro-jet.

More than a third of the attendees were children who received gliders and wind-up aeronautical toys to entertain themselves during the speeches, which were short, as Ken Reed, partner of S. Hunt Aero, promised. But Mr. Reed did take the time to praise nearly 100 local contractors who have been working to bring the regional airport to the fore. The combined effort of local contractors,  government, consultants, and even bankers have set the path for a stellar future at the airport, he said.



Ken Reed thanks Margaret Sawyer and Old Line Bank for taking the time to learn about the airport.

Mr. Reed particularly recognized Margaret Sawyer of Old Line Bank, who he praised for spending three years learning about the airport so to be the maximum help as a lending partner.

JD Concrete and the patent pending Quick Kick, the invention at the very foundation of the new incubator slated for St. Mary's County Airport

JD Concrete and the patent- pending Quick Kick, the invention at the very foundation of the new incubator slated for St. Mary’s County Regional Airport.

Also singled out was JD Concrete whose patent-pending concrete forms provided the foundation for the new Technology Incubator. “Think about that,” Mr. Reed said,  “the first thing used to pour the foundation for the Technology Incubator is a locally made, patent-pending product.”

airportAnd in a further blend of very local and very high tech, Mr. Reed praised an Amish business, bringing up Rueben Hertzler who with his two brothers run Triple H Construction, the steel erector.
Noting both the full parking lot of event attendees, Mr. Reed anticipates more “aviation and educationally themed events.” The airport  is adjacent to the Southern Maryland Higher Education campus, also on Airport Road, and expanding as well.
“The economic and community benefits of the  St. Mary’s County Regional Airport cannot be overstated. St. Mary’s County is a peninsula with no interstate, no rail, and no port. This makes the airport critical to business to operate here. Charters come in and out of here with teams of management from national chains such as Belk’s, JCPenney, Weis Markets, Cove Point Gas, and others. Having the airport right in the middle of our prime area of commerce is a benefit few realize.
“There are 3,500 counties in the US but there are 5,300 public  airports! Less than 600 of these have scheduled air carriers. Most companies are located within a short drive of where they can use a corporate aircraft or charter to fly into St. Mary’s County.  They can operate in and out of here without the time consuming need to go through an airport with scheduled service and even conduct business while in flight then be at their destination within minutes of landing.”



“There is no reason why, with the construction of Building 3 at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center next door, the University of Maryland UAS Test Site, the Technology Incubator, and the general expansion of the airport that Airport Road cannot become the most important road in St. Mary’s County,” Mr. Reed said.

2 Responses to “Hundreds Attend Airport Ribbon-Cutting”
  1. Art Nalls says:

    A great event and a great turnout, by the local community! It’s a pleasure for the aviation community to be welcomed by the local community, and St. Mary’s airport is certainly growing with lots of local support.

    The “Main Street” of any county, can be considered the local airport. It’s the first thing new business owners want to know about, because that’s how they travel, receive visitors, and move goods. Especially if things need to happen overnight. People FLY when they need to be somewhere, on time. Most medium to large businesses consider an airplane, their single most indispensable tool. It saves them time and money. And the local airport supports that.

    I’m proud to have our headquarters at St. Mary’s County airport.

  2. Aviation sure has come a long way since I lived in St. Mary’s County, 1967-1980. I remember some of the grass fields around the county. Several visits to St. Mary’s County revealed St. Mary’s County Regional Airport in its infancy. It is interesting to me from being a rural to urban county.

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