Saturday, May 07, 2016

Food meets flight at North Kingstown Chamber event: Providence Jet Center • Quonset State Airport (KOQU), North Kingstown, Washington County, Rhode Island

On May 12, food lovers will have the opportunity to let their taste buds soar while they observe the jet center at a local airfield for the first time.

In conjunction with the state Airport Corporation, North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce will host its annual “A Taste of NK Chamber” from 5:30-8 p.m. at the Providence Jet Center, 150 Airport St., near Quonset State Airport.

The event kicks off the Chamber’s annual Restaurant Week, which runs from May 16-22. The rain date is May 15. Fourteen restaurants will offer food samples inside the Jet Center’s 20,000-square-foot hangar, which normally houses high-end private jets and maintenance equipment.

“We are looking forward to the community attending this event and seeing how neat the hangar is and what a great asset it is to our community,” North Kingstown Chamber Executive Director Kristin Urbach said in an interview.

It will be the first time the Jet Center is opened to the public. The state Airport Corporation opened it in 2007, next door to its former terminal along Quonset Airport’s runway.

Jet Center Airport Manager Dave Lucas said many people in North Kingstown and beyond don’t realize Quonset is a public-use airport, so this event was an an opportunity to showcase what Quonset airport offers.

Quonset Airport is the most successful of the four general aviation airports operated under the state Airport Corporation’s umbrella. According to the corporation’s 2016 Economic Impact Analysis report, Quonset generates the most income ($68.4 million), gross state product ($129.5 million), output ($151.9 million) and taxes ($2.87 million). The airport employs more than 1,000 people, 55 specific to the Jet Center, Lucas said – the rest work for the U.S. Air Force or U.S. Army National Guard.

Lucas said 30,000 flight operations occur there annually.

In addition to the main waiting area near the entrance, the terminal houses a lounge for pilots and crew and a planning room with two computer work stations for pilots to prepare for future trips.

The hangar, which the old facility did not have, can house up to eight aircraft at one time. Lucas said small high-end planes, such as the Cessna Citation and Cirrus – a popular model for private owners – could be stored at the hangar and have light maintenance performed before and after flights.

Prepping the planes with food also is a regular client request, Lucas said, and the Jet Center works with local vendors who cater such jobs.

Along with taking care of the runways and taxiways, Lucas said the Jet Center helps crews find hotel accomodations for extended stays. Lucas also hopes to work with the Chamber to begin programs to teach children about aviation.

“We also want to show what kinds of careers these kids can have in aviation,” he said. “It’s not just the pilot. There’s airport operations; there’s fixed-based operations and maintenance. Air traffic controls, military options. All of that is right here and can all be seen.”

Statue performer group TEN31 Productions, a fixture at Waterfire in Providence, will be on hand with a bronze sea captain and a butterfly to tie into the event’s theme “From land to air to sea, let your taste buds soar by sampling food from Chamber member chefs and restaurants,” Urbach said.

Participating restaurants are: Oak Hill Tavern, 565 Tower Hill Road, North Kingstown; Tate’s Italian Kitchen, 64 Brown St., Wickford; Shayna’s Place, 45 Brown St., Wickford; Seven Moons, 6900 Post Road, North Kingstown; Great Harvest Bread, 6670 Post Road, North Kingstown; Inside Scoop, 30 Ten Rod Road, North Kingstown; Pier Pizza, 6667 Post Road, North Kingstown; Providence Coal Fired Pizza, 6105 Post Road, North Kingstown; The Coast Guard House, 40 Ocean Road, Narragansett; Sonoma Bistro & Wine Bar, 7366 Post Road, North Kingstown; Brewed Awakenings, 60 South County Commons Way, Wakefield; Anti Villain Ale Company, Providence; Gooseneck Vineyards of Wickford; and Exeter Job Corps, 162 Main St., Exeter.

Weather permitting, the Jet Center’s portal doors will be open during the event, with parked jets serving as a backdrop, Urbach said.

Tickets cost $20 in advance, $30 the day of the event. To purchase tickets, call 295-5566 or visit

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