After a year of turmoil, it appears that the
In February, on the recommendation of the airport advisory board, the county commission decided it would seek bids for a new fixed base operator (FBO) for
On Feb 21, the commission voted 3-1 to award the FBO contract to Fly High of Lexington, NC. Commissioner Noah Lockley opposed and Bevin Putnal was absent. The commission directed County Attorney Michael Shuler to enter into negotiations with Fly High.
AIATC took fruitless legal steps attempting to block the change.
When commissioners quarreled with Fly High over the terms of the lease, Fly High withdrew their offer and the commission found itself without a new FBO as the clock ticked.
In March, two more firms offered proposals to run the airport. Both claimed to have extensive plans for refurbishment and promised to bring new jobs to the area.
James Lawrence, CEO and president of Grace International, a firm that reportedly manufactured shipping containers, proposed to move the administrative arm of his Tennessee-based business here.
Robert Riegle CEO of Stratcorp, a purveyor of information technology, told commissioners his St. Petersburg-based firm would use the airport as a fixed operating base for Apalach Regional Training Complex (ARTIC), a subsidiary that provides training for police and military agencies and tests military equipment.
On March 6, commissioners voted 4-1, with Commissioner Noah Lockley opposed, to enter into negotiations with Grace.
When Grace proved to be a paper tiger whose status as a
The commission continued to communicate with both Grace and Fly High but no agreement was reached.
On May 1, the commission had failed to fill the post of FBO and operations at the airport ground to a halt.
County commissioners learned the telephone at the airport had been disconnected and the website for the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) stated that no fuel or other services are available. They decided to try an interim, local solution for managing the airport, and end negotiations with Grace and Fly High.
By unanimous agreement, with Cheryl Sanders patched in by telephone due to her recovery from hip surgery, the commissioners voted at a May 9 special meeting to have
But the commission was still under the gun. Mosteller could only serve the county as an interim manager for six months. After that, the county would be forced to replace him or make him a regular full-time employee.
Once again, the county went out for bids.
At the August 21 meeting, the commissioners opened four proposals to operate the
Applicants included Apalachee Winds Aviation, of
The proposals were sent to the airport board for review. On Sept. 18 they recommended Crystal Air.
On Sept.19, commissioners voted unanimously to award Crystal Air the position of FBO, beginning Nov. 1.
Crystal Air is a family company. Director of Operations Taylor Newman owns 96 percent of the stock and his parents the remaining 4 percent. The company was founded as an aircraft and heavy equipment rental company when Newman was 18, but the focus later narrowed to aviation.
Crystal Air is currently FBO at three airports. They have operated at
They provide other services at airports in
Crystal Air took possession of its newest lease on November 1 without fanfare and has already begun cleaning up and renovating the terminal and grounds.