Lawrence County Airpark flying high on eastern end

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 29, 2003

CHESAPEAKE- "It's a pretty day. The sun is shining. People will be in and out of here all day," Attitude Aviation Co-owner Marie Phillips said Friday afternoon as she watched a small airplane woosh down the runway at the Lawrence County Airpark and then soar skyward toward the west.

A few minutes later, another small plane approached the runway from the east, landed and then taxied to a stop nearby.

On a Friday after Christmas, people from all over the Tri-State were going some place or other, and they chose to take off or land at the Lawrence County Airpark.

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Established in the 1930s the airpark is home to 48 small aircraft. It averages 800 takeoffs and landings a month. Phillips said there are several new reasons why the airpark is a popular place.

"We have a new maintenance hangar. The last FAA inspection was about a month ago," Phillips said. "And we're getting ready to do a crack and seal of the runway.

We got a $245,000 FAA grant to do that and expand the ramp, expand the runup areas and do some drainage work."

Weather permitting, that work should be finished by spring at the latest, Phillips said. She said she would someday like to start a charter flight service at airpark.

The smaller airpark affords local flight enthusiasts something they might miss at other, larger airports - a sense of belonging.

Lynn and Hank Howell of Huntington, W.Va., said the Lawrence County Airpark has the some of the friendliest people around.

The airpark has "good camaraderie and community interest," Lynn Howell said.

He has been flying four years. His wife, Hank, is just learning.

"It's a fun place for flying and fellowship," Hank Howell said. "This is a great place to make friends."

That opinion was seconded by flight instructor Scott Coburn.

"This is good bunch of people here," Coburn said.

He gave credit to Phillips and Nelson Whitt, who co-owns Attitude Aviation with Phillips, for the popularity of the airpark.

"There has been five or six FBO's (fixed based operators) at this airpark in the last 10 years and Marie and Nelson were the only ones who did everything they said they would do, he said. "They're great."

Attitude Aviation has operated the airpark for nearly two years. Phillips said she is glad to be a part of the Chesapeake community and hopes the community will take pride in the airpark.

"We invite the community in to take a ride or to watch the planes," Phillips said. "We invite the community to come share the experience."