MOUNT GILEAD — The Morrow County Airport Terminal/Hangar on Township Road 126 has been in a state of neglect with very limited use over the past few years. Ceiling tiles are falling down due to a leaking roof, and the entire building shows signs of disrepair with deteriorating floors and wall covering.
The airport terminal is scheduled to undergo a facelift and remodeling in the next few months. That is because Alan Hughes came to Joe Dreyer and the Airport Authority Board with a proposal to bring his business to the Morrow County Airport.
Hughes looked at several of the airports in central Ohio before deciding to bring his business here and invest in the Morrow County Airport.
“Morrow County has the best availability and the county has been very willing to work with me,” Hughes said.
Hughes added that County Economic Development Director Andy Ware has been instrumental in navigating the necessary paperwork for the agreement with commissioners and the airport authority board, as well as state and federal agencies.
Based on the comprehensive business plan presented by Hughes, the lease agreement for the county hangar was made with the airport authority and approved by the county commissioners in the past few weeks. The board of zoning appeals approved the conditional use permit on Nov. 14.
The main county terminal/hangar near the road is being leased by Hughes and the hangar where several planes are housed has been purchased by Hughes from Mid-Ohio Resources.
The business plan includes renovation of the main county hangar and the area for pilots. Hughes will use the building to work on repairs and painting for antique, private and commercial planes. Hughes will be personally financing an estimated $30,000 in the main building for flooring, roof, lighting and other renovations.
The present plan is to start up in February when his first customers are already scheduled. He will begin with two employees and hopes to employ five in five years. There are also plans to have retail space for supplies for pilots as well as remodeling the pilot lounge, kitchen and restroom areas.
Commissioner Warren Davis envisions a thriving hub of enterprise at the airport location as pilots become aware of the upgrades He said one of the next things would be to put in a fuel station for pilots.
Morrow County Airport Board member Joe Carroll is pleased to see Hughes plans get under way. “How much activity there is at the airport influences how much funding is awarded by the state and federal government.”
“The government funding is what makes it possible to repair and improve the runways and other infrastructure projects,” Carroll added.
Ninety percent of funding for projects is from federal grants, with 5 percent each coming from the state and the county.
Carroll said the airport board sees the maintenance of the flight surfaces and lighting as their number one priority, the next plan is to get a fuel station for pilots. For that they will need wiring for credit card use.
Both the FAA and ODOT have reviewed the plan and lease rate agreement of $500 per month and found the amount consistent with guidelines for airports. The lease amount will be offset as Hughes invests in the renovation. The state commercial building permit is being completed with the guidance of Architect Jim Brucker and Associates.
Hughes is doing work not requiring a permit until the commercial permit is approved.
Hughes has worked in repair and remodeling of airplanes after working for Rockwell and more recently retiring after working 30 years in engineering for Honda in Marysville. He recently completed painting a 1942 radial engine plane used for training by the Army Air Corps. The plane is owned by Butch Fisher of Fisher Ag Service next door to the airport.
Hughes grew up in Morrow County and graduated from River Valley High School. He finished the training for his private pilot’s license with Butch Fisher. He and his wife Karen live near Prospect close to their children and grandchildren.