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Middle Georgia Regional Airport

(Soon to be) home of the big guitar

In the days before the magenta line, pilots had to look out the window to identify an airport they were flying over.
The airport redesign will be complete in 2025.
The airport redesign will be complete in 2025.

Many airfields emblazoned their name across a hangar roof or tarmac or had some other distinctive characteristic. Starting in 2025, Middle Georgia Regional Airport (MCN) will certainly be distinctive; just look down for a big guitar and you’ll know where you are.

Georgia’s Bibb County has big plans for its airport, 10 miles south of downtown Macon. It recently revealed designs for a new, swank $12 million FBO facility, built to serve pilots while honoring Macon’s Southern rock and roll heritage. Architectural renderings show the building, when viewed from the air, will be shaped like a guitar. The guitar neck is a covered walkway leading to the terminal, built in the shape of an acoustic guitar body. From ground level, the building’s façade will appear as a piano keyboard, with windows as the black keys and white granite as the white keys. The plan includes using local Georgia woods to finish the interior and to decorate it with memorabilia from local musicians.

The county also plans to operate the FBO instead of leasing it to a private company. The new FBO operation is named HighNote Aviation to emphasize the county’s goal of creating “an FBO that will hit the high notes in the quality of service,” said county aviation director Doug Faour. “We want to provide top-notch FBO services to the GA community. This is not just an FBO or airport project, it’s a community project,” he said. “This is an important gateway to our community.”

The current 7,000-square-foot general aviation building, now 43 years old, will be demolished and replaced by the new, 15,000-square-foot facility. The design includes a passenger waiting area, pilot lounge, flight planning room, conference room, restrooms with showers, pilot shop, flight school, and a second-floor restaurant with a balcony overlooking the airfield. HighNote Aviation staff are on the job now serving visiting pilots with crew cars, car rentals, hotel reservations, catering, and fueling. Hangar space might be available for transient aircraft, but it’s not guaranteed. Charter flights, aircraft repairs, and sales are available on the field. Further improvements include extending the main runway to 7,100 feet and a new FAA control tower.

Construction will begin in 2024 with a completion date slated for late 2025. In the interim, the FBO operations will move to either the airport’s commercial terminal—which serves the sole airline flight, Contour Airlines to/from Baltimore, Maryland—or another vacant building nearby.

“We’re on the flight path between Atlanta and Florida, so many airline passengers should be able to look down and see our guitar, especially at night when it will be illuminated by LED lights on the roof,” said Faour. “This is one community that understands the value of its airport.”

Artist's rendering of the airport design as it will be seen from the air in the daytime.
Artist's rendering of the airport design as it will be seen from the air in the daytime.
Artist's rendering of the airport design as it will be seen from the air at night.
Artist's rendering of the airport design as it will be seen from the air at night.

Macon and Southern Rock 

Pilots and fans of Southern Rock who arrive in Macon, Georgia, have plenty to explore in the area. Macon’s claim to be the birthplace of Southern rock is based primarily on the city’s association with the Allman Brothers Band, who lived in Macon, and Capricorn Records, a record label and studio where many Southern rock bands recorded, including the Marshall Tucker Band, Charlie Daniels, Stillwater, and the Dixie Dregs. Otis Redding and Little Richard were also Macon residents. Southern rock fans should begin their Macon tour at the “Big House,” where the Allman Brothers band members lived in the early 1970s, during some of their most productive years. The house was renovated and opened as a museum. It’s jam-packed with musical instruments and gear, and many of the upper rooms are decorated as they were when the band lived there.

Also worth a visit is the nearby Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park which preserves major earthworks built by the Mississippian culture. The site includes a Great Temple Mound, plus ceremonial and burial mounds. It was the largest archaeology dig in America when from 1933 to 1936, 800 men of Roosevelt’s WPA excavated the site under the direction of the Smithsonian Institution. More than 2.5 million artifacts were found, and a selection are on view at the museum.

Ten miles south of Middle Georgia Regional Airport is the Museum of Aviation at Robins Air Force Base, the second largest museum of the U.S. Air Force. It exhibits a selection of more than 85 aircraft including bombers, cargo airplanes, fighters, trainers, helicopters, missiles, and drones.

Dennis K. Johnson

Dennis K. Johnson is an aviation writer and pilot living in New York City.

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