Louisa County airport going regional will help local business

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LOUISA COUNTY, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- Louisa County Airport, also known as Freeman Field, is getting an upgrade with its title. The Virginia Department of Aviation has designated Freeman Field as a regional airport; a change from its title as local general aviation airport.

"We're the middle airport between Richmond international and the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport,” said Virgil Hill, Louisa County airport manager. “The state identified that we're in that gap between those two communities.”

Hill says the airport is within a 30-minute drive for anyone that would like to get to the airport.

"We were already filling the role of a regional airport. They just made it official, and gave us the ability to eventually have a 5,500-foot runway here," said Hill.

Other projects that have already finished have been an installation of a new state-of-the-art runway lighting system and new security lightning. They are now higher on the list for funding to help future projects like a new terminal. All this means more local business.

"The ultimate goal is to have this airfield support the local economy with jobs," said Hill.

The airport now houses more than 50 aircraft.

A large portion of the funding comes from the aviation trust fund. That gets most of its money from the flying industry, such as fuel, property tax, and tax on commercial flights. Louisa County airport will get a little bit of a bigger share with the regional title.

There are no future plans for commercial flying, but there is a lot of recreational flying out of the airport along with people flying on business. The airport is also used to help teach flying.

"I've been flying in and out of here since, I want to say 1991," said Paul Vesely, president and CEO of Blue Mountain Data Systems.

He has a plane and flies out of Freemen Field on a regular basis. He has watched it grow.

“We've probably doubled since I've been here in the last five years," said Vesely.

Although he flies mostly for recreation, he has taken a few business trips to Atlanta.

"Every airport is really an economic engine. For every dollar that's invested in an airport, it returns $2 that's invested in the community," said Vesely.

He moved to Louisa in 2010 and expects even more growth in the coming years.

The single runway now is 4,300 feet by 100 feet but plans are to expand the runway to 5,500 feet by 100 feet.

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