Lanett airport celebrates with ribbon cutting ceremony

Published 8:00 am Saturday, July 22, 2023

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LANETT —A ribbon-cutting ceremony is being planned to celebrate the Lanett airport’s upgrading formally. An estimated $15 million in improvements have put it in the category of a regional airport. The runway has been lengthened from 3,100 feet to 5.400 feet, ample for business-class jet to land, refuel and take off. Lanett Regional has a new terminal with offices for the Chambers County Development Authority (CCDA), Airport Manager Richard Carter, a pilot’s lounge, and huge areas for welcoming visitors and for having business conferences.

“This will be a big event for our city,” said Mayor Jamie Heard. “It has been a long time coming.”

Greater Valley Executive Director Carrie Wood told The Valley Times-News that the tentative date and time has been set for 10 a.m. EDT on Thursday, August 10th.

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The invitation list includes local officials such as State Rep. Debbie Wood, State Senator Randy Price, Mayor Heard and city council members, Executive Director Valerie Gray and members of the CCDA staff, and Chambers County commissioners. Representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), representatives of the office of Governor Kay Ivey, the office of Congressman Mike Rogers, the office of U.S. Senator Katie Britt and officials from project consultant Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood have been invited.

Senator Britt’s predecessor, Senator Richard Shelby, was instrumental in funding the airport improvements in Lanett. There’s a great demand for airports with runways at least a mile in length, and Lanett Regional is ideally situated to be a primary backup site for the bustling airport in Auburn.

Though the runway and terminal are complete, Lanett Regional remains a work in progress.

Paving is needed for the taxiway and the apron. “We need to re-do the asphalt around the T hangars and the box hangar,” said Airport Manager Richard Carter. “It’s been a busy summer here. Flight school students have been landing and taking off, and we’ve had some planes landing to refuel. Everyone talks about how smooth the runway is.”

Some of the paving could be completed in 90 days.

The access road to the airport is also due for some improvements.

Some site grading and paving near the terminal is set of 2024. The apron will be expanded in 2025. An automated weather observing station (AWOS) and a Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) system will be installed in 2026.

An AWOS system is owned and controlled by the FAA. A PAPI system consists of four light boxes arranged perpendicular to the edge of the runway. It projects a pattern of red and white lights that provide visual approach slope information.

“It’s exciting to see this coming together,” Carter said. “There’s a great opportunity for corporate aircraft to be based here. Some industries are looking at having planes here.”

The Lanett airport can help relieve congestion that’s been taking place at the airport in Auburn. “I think it will be a good place to come in for game day weekends,” Carter said. “The Auburn airport is incredibly busy on weekends when Auburn has home football games. Some of that traffic can be directed this way. We just need to have some kind of shuttle service to get people to and from the football game.”

Carter said some aviation-related businesses are looking to locate between the new runway and I-85. They like the visibility near the Interstate.

“There’s still some dirt to move around out here, and we need to improve road access,” Carter said.

The main entrance off Cusseta could be paved once the Phillips Road project is completed near Huguley Elementary School. There’s also the possibility of having a new access road off Phillips Road. It would be a lot closer to the Interstate.

“This place is beautiful at night when the runway lights are on,” Carter said.