LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC — Improvements proposed to make the Pelion airstrip more appealing to business travelers carry a $4 million price tag.
The plan outlined to Lexington County Council includes extending and widening the runway, adding up to 10 hangars and expanding buffers to prevent other development from affecting flights.
Pieces of the package would occur in stages over five years if council members allocate money for the features proposed.
The goal is to “build up slowly,” councilman Todd Cullum of Cayce said.
Runway improvements — estimated at $3.2 million — compose the bulk of the package.
The plan calls for lengthening it from 4,335 to 5,000 feet and widening it from 60 to 75 feet to make the airstrip better able to handle small jets typically used to ferry corporate leaders.
Doing that would position the airstrip as a site available for executives eager to save time and reduce hassles when flying into the western side of the Midlands.
The idea moves away from efforts to make it a magnet for new development when the facility was bought from the town in 2004.
“It’s got to be something,” councilman Jim Kinard of Swansea said. “Doing this is a good place to start.”
The airstrip would become a smaller twin of Hamilton-Owens Airport 20 miles east.
Its 6,300 takeoffs and landings could more than double in 20 years with the improvements, the plan says.
Putting up the hangars first to satisfy demand for more aircraft shortage is the first step suggested, with runway upgrades following as soon as 2015.
Nearly all of the improvements would be paid for by federal aid from taxes on airline passengers, with the county’s share estimated at $228,000.
Meanwhile, county officials are trying to add another amenity at the airstrip immediately.
They’re looking for someone who would maintain and inspect aircraft as well as provide aviation instruction and car rentals at the airstrip.
Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.