Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Charter flights open at Adirondack Regional Airport: Town dedicates new $700,000 hangar

Cutting the ribbon on Go Aviation’s new charter flight service operation at the Adirondack Regional Airport in Lake Clear, and their location in a new, town of Harrietstown-owned hangar are, from left, town council members Ron Keough, Patricia Meagher and Howard Riley, airport Manager Corey Hurwitch, Go Aviation President Michael Klein (holding his daughter Eleanor), Shannon Klein and Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Johnny Muldowney.

Michael Klein of Go Aviation talks about his company’s new charter service at the Adirondack Regional Airport on Tuesday. 

LAKE CLEAR - The Adirondack Regional Airport has a new charter flight service, based at a new 6,400-square-foot hangar owned by the town of Harrietstown.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Tuesday for Go Aviation Inc., which is leasing the hangar from the town. The company was recently certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to offer charter flights using its six-seat Beechcraft King Air 90 twin-turboprop aircraft.

"It's something we've never really had before, at least not since I've been here," said airport Manager Corey Hurwitch, who's worked at the airport since 2008. "I don't know if it's ever been here. We're hoping it's really successful and helps bring people to the area."

Go Aviation President Michael Klein said the company started four years ago as a hobby while he was living in Potsdam and working a job in retail. He said he was approached by a few friends about putting together an aircraft partnership.

"I was a sole pilot at first and quickly ran out of time for my retail job," Klein said. "Word started spreading about what we were doing and, in December 2013, a few more (people) joined up and wanted to move into a more modest aircraft. So we went out and purchased the ugliest King Air we could find. We had a vision we could turn this ugly ducking into the area's premier charter aircraft."

A year later "and a lot poorer," the company is now able to provide public charter service using the restored King Air turboprop, Klein said.

"Right now we fly regularly to Teterboro (New Jersey), Toronto and other places in New York, but you can charter us to fly anywhere in the U.S. you want to go," said Brendan Carberry, an engineer and project manager for Go Aviation.

The company started out with one plane. Now it has four aircraft and a helicopter. In addition to charter flights, Go Aviation provides aircraft maintenance, aircraft management, professional pilot services, "and we do a little bit of sea plane and bush flying," Klein said. In the spring, the company plans to offer helicopter tours of the region.

"The team we have is dedicated to aviation," Klein said. "It's our livelihood but also our passion. This facility represents the culmination of many years of work."

Hurwitch said the original plan in building the 80-by-80-foot hangar was to provide more space for "transient" aircraft, or planes not based at the airport.

"A lot of them want to go in a hangar and they'll pay a good amount of money to go in a hangar," he said. "That was the original goal, but as time went on, we saw the need to provide space for one of our tenants that wanted to grow and expand. As development started, we started talking to them about leasing the space, and they were interested, and we were able to come to an agreement for them to lease the whole hangar from us."

Go Aviation was previously sharing a different hangar on the property with Cape Air, the airport's commercial passenger service. They'll still use that one, "and now they have a nice, new, clean, fresh facility for their customers," Hurwitch said.

The town also has an agreement with the company to house transient aircraft that won't fit in any of the airport's other hangars in the new hangar, with the town and Go Aviation splitting the profits.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony, part of a mixer hosted by the Saranac Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, was both a celebration of Go Aviation's new charter service and completion of the hangar, Hurwitch said.

The town received a state grant to build the hangar, which cost just over $700,000. The town's share is more than 10 percent.

"Our goal, whether we were leasing it to a transient aircraft or to a tenant, was to pay off the town's share within five years, and it looks like we'll be able to do that," Hurwitch said.

Other projects

Hurwitch said the hangar is the second in a series of three major projects at the airport. The first was the expansion of the airport's terminal building, which opened in January of last year.

The final project is an expansion of the facility's Snow Removal Equipment/Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Facility. Funded by a grant from the FAA, the expansion is expected to start soon, Hurwitch said.

"After that, the big projects will be pretty much knocked out," Hurwitch said.

A smaller project, a state-funded upgrade of the airport's fuel farm, is expected to take place next summer. Hurwitch said the project will give the airport more fuel capacity.

"On busy weekends, we come close to running out of fuel," he said. "We've had times, like this past weekend, where I'm begging our fuel supplier to get a delivery here. We're selling more fuel this year than we did last year, and we sold more fuel than we did the year before, so we're moving in the right direction."

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