June 7, 2011
By Jill W. Tallman
Large red letters on the terminal building still read “U.S. Naval Air Station,” but as of June 4, the rechristened Brunswick Executive Airport in Maine officially welcomed civilian pilots. And pilots arrived in droves.
There were 294 aircraft, including single- and multiengine, powered parachutes, a hot air balloon, helicopters, and jets. The site officially opened for civilian use on April 2, marking the first time since World War II that civilian pilots can land at the Brunswick Executive Airport. Organizers hope that the June fly-in will become an annual event.
Pilots and members of the community wandered the expansive flight line, admiring some amphibious aircraft. They also took the opportunity to climb inside a Kestrel, the single-engine six-seat composite turboprop that will be built at the airport.
“Brunswick Executive is already a success story,” AOPA President Craig Fuller said at the event. “It’s entirely too rare that we see new general aviation airports open—although this is the first of two new airports I will be visiting this month,” he added, referring to Austin Executive, a new reliever airport in Texas.
Fuller noted that the reopened Brunswick airport creates opportunities for the area, including new businesses such as Kestrel Aircraft under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Alan Klapmeier. Brunswick will serve as a new gateway for GA flights to and from Europe, and provide fly-in access to the Great State of Maine Airshow and Business Aviation Expo, an event that features the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and draws 150,000 people. This year’s Great State of Maine Airshow is set for Aug. 26 through 28.
A cause to rejoice
More than 80 pilots attended a Pilot Town Hall at Brunswick Executive Airport on June 4. (Photo courtesy Lawreston/Distinctive Views)
The return of the airport to the community has re-energized local pilots, said Melissa LaCasse, sponsorship and special events coordinator for the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA). The fly-in welcomed participation of numerous airports, including Sanford Regional and Bangor International, LaCasse said, adding, “We wanted to be stewards of the entire Maine aviation community.”
LaCasse said the fly-in ceremonies also will help draw attention to the Maine Flying Trail, a competition launching this month in which pilots can land at 10 participating airports by Oct. 31 and earn prizes, including two Maine lobsters.
MRRA Executive Director Steve Levesque said the healthy attendance of aircraft both large and small exceeded his expectations, and said it sends a signal that “Maine is open for flying business.”
In addition to the static display, spectators enjoyed live bluegrass music, aviation safety seminars, and the opportunity to talk to several pilots who have built or are building airplanes. Tom Muller of Poland Spring, Maine, said five chapters of the Experimental Aircraft Association teamed up to educate nonpilots about the homebuilding process, as well as pilots who might not have had an interest in building their own airplanes. Muller’s own RV-9A was on display, as were several other projects in various stages of completion.
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.
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