To: Wicomico Rotary Club
From: Dawn Veatch – Manager, SBY Regional Airport
“Report to the Community” – growth and expansion of the SBY Regional airport.
The SBY Regional Airport has undergone significant and exciting changes this past year. January 31, 2018, marks the one-year anniversary of the time during which I have had the sincere pleasure to serve as SBY’s manager. During this period, we have done a top to bottom review to improve the airport for the benefit of our community. We first of all recognize that SBY needs to be responsive to our residents and to serve our community in the best way possible. So, we applied for a $750,000 grant from the US DOT to work on getting better routes and to reduce our airfares. This is a tremendous program for us in that we have such outstanding support from our business community – they have pledged over $100,000 to supplement the grant funds for advertising and route expansion! So, we are working to have our airline offer direct service to top destinations such as Florida with better rates. We are also courting other airlines to supplement our legacy air carrier. This won’t take away from our present carrier – we feel that we can grow our service to capture the passengers that are now driving to BWI and PHL for air travel. We recognize that our present carrier has evolved and stood by us since the inception of air service at SBY. We are a team, and always want to provide our community with the best service possible. To that end we are working with our carrier, Piedmont Airlines DBA American Eagle to provide them more advertising, better equipment and, ultimately, jet ways to keep our enplaning/deplaning passengers out of the elements.
We are also working on the aesthetics and services of SBY. Our latest biggest project is the renovation of the old restaurant to transform it into our latest invention – Foodies! Our plan is to have convenient, various, and delicious food available from a variety of restaurants in the Salisbury/Wicomico area. So, we will have different restaurants bring their cuisine to the SBY restaurant/passenger lounge area during breakfast, lunch, happy hour, and dinner. This way, our travelers and our airport employees will have a variety of offerings that will truly make dining at SBY an enjoyable and satisfying event.
But SBY is not only home to the airlines and airline travel; it serves commercial and general aviation. We tore down the old T-hangars that were an eye-sore at the entrance to Terminal Road and we are in the process of building a big new T-hangar located with the rest of the newer T-hangars near our Fixed Base Operator. Our plans include building several new corporate jet hangars to serve the business community of Salisbury, Wicomico County and Ocean City. Our snow equipment was not stored in protected space so we are building new equipment facilities as well as maintenance facilities.
We believe that you are only limited by your dreams, so dream! We have plans to centralize national and state emergency management programs at SBY and are working with FEMA and MEMA on being designated as a central distribution facility. To that end, new hangars and warehouses will be built in our industrial park and a new cargo ramp will be constructed. And the new cargo ramp will also be an incentive for more cargo carriers to relocate to SBY.
And our dreams are going to take off – some of them in the form of drones and Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles. SBY has applied to become a Lead Participant in the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program. The enticement we offer program team members is a 10,000 square foot hangar and launch/recovery pad dedicated to drone operations. We are working in the program with over 50 team members to support the FAA’s efforts to integrate drones into our national airspace system. Our team members will use our facility to design, test, operate and manufacture unmanned aircraft vehicles.
Last but not least is our annual SBY Wings & Wheels event. It coincides with Armed Forces Day and will draw over 4000 people this year. We will have military aircraft static displays to include the Maryland Air National Guard’s A-10 fighter aircraft, Delaware Air National Guard C-130s, and Patuxent Naval Air Station’s attack helicopters and T-6 trainers. The warbird B-25 will be offering tours and rides. We will have bi-plane rides, helicopter rides, hot air balloon rides and airplane rides. There will be food trucks, live music, bouncy castles and vendors available. The Wheels That Heal Car Club will bring their antique cars and hot rods. And there will be a fly-in of pilots from our nearby communities bringing their antique, experimental, home-built, and warbird aircraft. Model remote controlled aircraft will fly as will drones. We are asking community sponsors to make donations to cover our expenses (admission/parking is free!). Businesses and anyone that wants to support the airport, can go to www.flysbyairport.com/wings-wheels/sponsors to contribute.
As you can see we are excited about SBY. Two to five year plans include Passenger Terminal Expansion and renovation, and a runway expansion project to lengthen our primary runway from 6,400 feet to 8,000 feet. This will allow larger aircraft such as Boeing 757 to fly from SBY to the west coast and to Central America – so they can get chickens and we can get oranges and flowers! We will continue working to make SBY a community asset that everyone will be proud of and that will provide the best service possible to our community.