Airport recovery nearly complete

The Tucker-Guthrie Memorial Airport has been undergoing a lengthy overhaul since severe winter weather did serious damage to the facility in 2014. The reconstruction work is almost done, with a new hangar and terminal building nearly completed.

Harlan County Airport Board Chairman Mark Miracle explained the completion date is about three weeks away.

“The old terminal building collapsed from the snow,” Miracle said. “This has been in the works since then.”

Miracle said the job was funded largely with insurance money.

“We tore the old one completely down and started from scratch,” Miracle said. “We have a new terminal building with a pilot’s lounge, a flight plan room, a conference room, bathrooms, showers, a kitchen and a lobby.”

Miracle said the lobby will feature a large fireplace and a big screen television.

“If a pilot flies in and drops passengers off and has to wait on them, they’ve got a place to relax,” Miracle said. “It will be real nice.”

Miracle also mentioned a fence project which is in the works.

“We just opened the bids on the fence project,” Miracle said. “It’s going to enclose around the hangar so people won’t be able to get in to where the airplanes are. We’ve had cars come up here and drive out on the runway, which is dangerous. So we’re putting a gate up and you’ll have to have a card to get access to the apron or runway.”

Miracle explained the general public will still be able to access the terminal building.

“They’re doing the finishing touches on the inside right now,” Miracle said. “The water’s on, the restrooms are open, the heat’s on, everything is basically ready.”

Miracle pointed out the airport’s apron has been expanded with new blacktop and lining.

“We put tie downs in where people can tie down airplanes outside if they want to,” Miracle said. “It goes all the way out to the runway and over to the hangars.”

Miracle explained the airport is mostly utilized by business and private pilots as well as the occasional chartered flight.

“There are not any commercial airliners that come in here,” Miracle said. “If you wanted to fly to Florida, you could charter a plane out of London or Hazard and they would fly in here and pick you up and take you wherever you wanted to go.”

Miracle said a new weather station is also going up at the airport in about 30 days.