October 4, 2023

St. Mary’s County Regional Airport Celebrates 50th

St. Mary's County Regional Airport

St. Mary’s County Regional Airport’s golden anniversary is this year, and the regional airport in California, MD, has a lot to celebrate.

Growth at the airport is at a pace surpassing any time in its 50-year history. Today’s results topple growth projections across a wide array of metrics.

At the heart of these metrics is the number of aircraft that consider St. Mary’s County Regional Airport home. And that is growing fastest of all.

The airport was predicted to have 116 aircraft by 2020. Today there are 178 aircraft at the airport. Since 2006, when 100 aircraft were based here, today’s numbers represent a 78 percent increase.

This makes St. Mary’s County Regional Airport the fastest growing general aviation airport in Maryland. From 2006 to 2018, most other general aviation airports in Maryland lost aircraft.

With a concentration of effort at the airport some great success are occurring, but growth isn’t always easy. “There are some minor growing pains,” says Ken Reed of S. Hunt Aero.

Mr. Reed leads the development company partnering with St. Mary’s County government as well as with “pilots, hangar tenants, on-site businesses, and independent operators” to create what is becoming a consortium of aviation and innovation at the expanding airport.

“For example,” he says, “there aren’t the number of maintenance facilities needed to handle the influx of additional aircraft. We’re trying to attract more on-site maintenance and avionics companies. Atkinson Aviation headed by Jim Atkinson is number one on our list. They have a great reputation for quality work.”

The increase in activity and aircraft also demands updates to the airport rules and minimum standards which were last revised in 1995. A discussion, specifically of these proposed updates was the topic of a St. Mary’s Airport Advisory Board meeting last week. The rules at point deal with standards of licensing, insurance, and the meeting of minimum safety and performance standards.

This is an ongoing discussion and the meeting last week was to gather input on the rules. It represents what Mr. Reed calls a “spirited debate.”

And that is how it appeared at the meeting, conducted cordially by the Airport Advisory Board President Eric Pratson with opening comments by St. Mary’s County Commission President Randy Guy and Director of Public Works John Deatrick.

“We have a common bond,” Mr. Reed explained. “Aviation. And everyone shares this bond. We are a lucky community, aviation is in our DNA.

“The airport is very fortunate to be supported by county residents, county staff, and county leadership all coming together at the right time.”

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