Newnan-Coweta Airport poised for the future
by Clay Neely
As the saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
For Calvin Walker, airport manager for Newnan-Coweta Airport, this expression rings true for his facility on a daily basis.
The recent renovation of the 48-year-old facility gives Walker and the staff at Newnan-Coweta Airport the distinct honor of welcoming new and returning visitors to the region.
As Walker explained it, when a passenger or pilot disembarks from the plane, the first thing they notice is the facility – and the restroom is generally the first stop.
“We do our best to ensure that everything is pristine,” Walker said.
Similar to a family on a vacation road trip, reputations for quality and for cleanliness are some of the key aspects any traveler keeps in the forefront of their mind when deciding where to stop.
“You want to pick the clean places,” Walker said. “Our focus is creating curb appeal for our pilots and passengers. In a way, it’s like the front door to the community.”
However, the recent upgrades to the facility were built primarily out of necessity.
Following the ice storm in February, a maintenance worker noticed the presence of mold. Upon taking the paneling off the walls, it was discovered that mold had been trapped behind the walls and something had to be done.
“We tore out the Sheetrock, treated everything, re-Sheetrocked it, painted it and re-carpeted,” Walker said.
The renovations wrapped up in May and along with the mold being eradicated, the airport now sports a modern new look with the help of new flooring and ceiling.
“The community was involved as well,” Walker said. “All of our new cabinets were made at the county shop.”
Along with the cosmetic renovations, the Newnan-Coweta Airport still boasts a 5,500 foot lighted asphalt runway with 36 T-Hangars and 11 corporate hangars. The Newnan-Coweta County Airport is equipped with a localizer and a precision GPS approaches that allows for operations during inclement weather conditions.
Presently, the Newnan-Coweta Airport has 50,000 operations annually and an additional 30 T-Hangars were completed in 2005. Corporate owned jets, military aircraft, and recreational aircraft make up the 130 jet and piston type aircraft that reside at the Newnan-Coweta Airport.
And there is no denying the growth that the Coweta community has seen over the last 10 years. Since his tenure at the airport began in 2001, Walker has certainly seen the changes from his unique vantage point.
“Back in 2001, we might go weeks without seeing an airplane. Now we’re seeing 65,000 operations annually,” Walker said. “For us, that’s quite a bit.”
Now, as Coweta’s commercial and industrial sectors continue to grow, Walker and the airport are witnessing a very noticeable increase in daily traffic as representatives from Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Yamaha, Cargill, Target and Belks, among many others, are now frequenting the facility.
“There are several airports that are available to these companies,” Walker said. “It’s our primary focus to ensure that they see us as a primary destination and we strive to ensure that they keep coming back to us.”
Walker has certainly seen results. He recalled when a pilot for CTCA remarked that the airport was one of the finest looking smaller airports he had seen in awhile.
“It’s comments like these that let us know we’re on the right track,” Walker said.
As the airport can been seen as the gateway to the community, Walker’s vision for the future of the airport is echoes the sentiments of many community leaders and residents as well.
Keeping the unique small town charm while offering amenities that are generally reserved for larger cities is what makes Coweta a growing destination for business. As president of the Coweta County Development Authority, Greg Wright knows how important having an airport nearby plays in the recruitment of new businesses and industry.
“Our airport is certainly an asset that we show off,” Wright said. “Hartsfield is a key draw for a lot of companies and executives, having a local airport is a tremendous benefit for our area.”
Wright feels that the airport is ripe for economic opportunities in aviation and aerospace and its location is certainly a key factor.
“Having an airport like this nearby increases our chances of landing companies who need to take advantage of that proximity,” Wright said. “We do our best to promote it.”
And while Coweta continues to grow, it still maintains the personal, small-town feel that new and existing companies find so appealing.
“We do our best to promote this facility and make people aware that traffic doesn’t necessarily have to go through Atlanta,” Walker said. “It saves them time and gives us the opportunity to show them why our facility and county is so special.”