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The Future of Spartanburg's Downtown Memorial Airport

89 posts in this topic

Nearly 80 years ago South Carolina's firstcommercial airport - the Spartanburg Memorial Airport - opened for business. Charles Lindbergh flew into town to help dedicate the field in 1927.

Over the years this airport has hosted the US Airmail Service, Eastern Airlines, and the US Army Air Corps. Since 1962 when it was renamed the Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport it has served almost exclusively as a general aviation facility. More than 100 aircraft are currently based there. Yours truly learned to fly there.

The airport once had three paved runways - all connected to the aircraft parking ramp by a series of taxiways. Today the airport has just one runway, 05-23 at 5,203 feet. This runway has high intensity edge lighting, approach lighting, and an instrument landing system. Each day 200 aircraft take off and land there.

Recently, the Herald-Journal reported that Spartanburg city and county leaders have decided to jointly fund and support improvements at the airport. A much-needed new terminal will be built, possibly with a restaurant and museum, the runway will be extended, and additional aircraft parking areas will be contructed.

This is good news for Spartanburg. The Downtown Memorial Airport is a real asset to our community. Many cities, some much larger than Spartanburg, lack a general aviation only airport. A G-A airport provides a home to the mix of corporate and private aircraft and relieves the primary comercial airport of this burden.

Moreover, spiffy airport facilities will aid Spartanburg's efforts in "landing" new business and industry. An airport - any airport is a plus to companies looking to expand or relocate.

I encourage everyone to drive over and take a look at this historic and important airport.

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I was at the wings and wheels event earlier in the summer and there was some real excitement over the future of the airport. Councilman Horton seems genuinely interested in working with the city and thats what its going to take to ensure SPTGs growth into the future. We all know that CEO's dont come in on Greyhound I think the airport is going to lure big money into the city, and hopefully fill up Renaissance Park with corporate investment.

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I was at the wings and wheels event earlier in the summer and there was some real excitement over the future of the airport. Councilman Horton seems genuinely interested in working with the city and thats what its going to take to ensure SPTGs growth into the future. We all know that CEO's dont come in on Greyhound I think the airport is going to lure big money into the city, and hopefully fill up Renaissance Park with corporate investment.

Wings & Wheels was done very well by the city and the airport. The day I attended the weather was marvelous and the crowd was having a good time.

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I am glad that they are going to invest in improvements to the airport. Its too bad that they can't get another of those runways up and running again, as the remants of the other ones are still there. Still, Spartanburg is fortunate to have an airport so close to town. They need to improve access to it, IMO, because if you aren't from the area, it can be a little confusing to get to.

Slightly off topic here, but this comes at a time when competition may be increasing for SPA. Cherokee County renctly approved funding for an airport to serve them. Currently people there must come to Spartanburg for this convenience.

Anyway, kudos to the City and County for working together for a better Spartanburg :)

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When I was in High School, I worked at the Greenville Downtown Airport, which has been a tremendous asset to that city. During that time, I had the occasional opportunity to visit many of the Upstate airports, including Spartanburg Downtown Airport. I was really surprised how incredibly tiny it was back then, but even at that time, there was talk of a much-needed major expansion. I had expected something to be done long before now, but we can finally put this long wait to rest. I wonder if the designs have changed? Does anyone have access to renderings? This will undoubtedly be a big boost to the local economy, as it will provide a respectable home for more corporate and charter flights. :shades:

Edited by Skyliner

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I am glad that they are going to invest in improvements to the airport. Its too bad that they can't get another of those runways up and running again, as the remants of the other ones are still there. Still, Spartanburg is fortunate to have an airport so close to town. They need to improve access to it, IMO, because if you aren't from the area, it can be a little confusing to get to.

Slightly off topic here, but this comes at a time when competition may be increasing for SPA. Cherokee County renctly approved funding for an airport to serve them. Currently people there must come to Spartanburg for this convenience.

Anyway, kudos to the City and County for working together for a better Spartanburg :)

Cherokee County, I believe, is the only county in SC without a public airport.

The prevailing winds at the Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport favor the use of runway 05-23. That fact and the incredible cost to reconstruct runways 17-35 and 11-29 are the reasons why Spartanburg has just one runway.

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You may be right. I thought that there would be more counties without an airport. What about McCormick?

I assumed it was mostly costs of reconstruction associated with having the one runway. Prevailing winds makes sense I suppose. Do you think they will ever rebuild one of the other runways?

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Apparantly they have lowered the tax on aircrafts in an attempt to lure more aircraft to the county. The thought is that since we are a border county, people might come from NC or other counties to store/register their plane in Spartanburg since it will now be so cheap. People already do that with cars.

Article

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You may be right. I thought that there would be more counties without an airport. What about McCormick?

I assumed it was mostly costs of reconstruction associated with having the one runway. Prevailing winds makes sense I suppose. Do you think they will ever rebuild one of the other runways?

McCormick County has a public airport - the McCormick County Airport.

Runways 17-35 and 11-29 will never be rebuilt. SPARTA has recently contructed a bus maintenance facillty at one end of the long ago closed 11-29. The city, meanwhile, has constructed hangars and a developer is in the process of building a light business park on parts of 17-35.

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I see. Well, then what are the chances of building a new second runway?

I am surprised that Cherokee was denied funding for a study to determine the feasability of an airport since every other county in the state has one.

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I see. Well, then what are the chances of building a new second runway?

I am surprised that Cherokee was denied funding for a study to determine the feasability of an airport since every other county in the state has one.

A new runway would be dependent on increased air traffic at the airport. Right now the airport handles about 80,000 takeoffs and landings per year. That number would probably have to double or even triple before a new runway were to be considered.

I would suspect that a parallel runway instead of an intersecting or crosswind runway would be constructed if SPA attained a sufficient number of operations (takeoffs and landings) to warrant it's consideration. As I mentioned before, the prevailing winds strongly favor runway 05-23.

Cherokee County has tossed around the need for an airport for years. I suppose the powers-to-be feel that with Charlotte, GSP, SPA, and Shelby Municipal all relatively close an airport for Cherokee County would be a waste of money.

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I was flying at SPA last week and couldn't get over the amount of air traffic there. I was performing practice landings (touch & goes in aviation vernacular) and the mix of arriving and departing aircraft was amazing. I was at the airport for about an hour and counted two jets, two turbo props, a helicopter, and about a dozen single engine aircraft taking off and landing.

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Below is a quote from city manager Mark Scott:

Council anticipates beginning a five-year plan for the downtown airport to add a new terminal and apron improvements and T-hangar for additional space for privately owned planes.

"We're seeking funding for the airport project, and we're hopeful that we'll at least be able to finance a portion of the cost"

For those of us who understand the importance of the airport to Spartanburg, this is great news.

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Can you elaborate on why the airport is important?

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In today's H-J regarding the airport:

New terminal building

New aircraft parking ramp

New airport access road (connecting the airport to SC-295)

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It all sounds very good for the airport. I'm glad that its being fixed up, and more importantly, its good to know that the thing operates with its own revenues.

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This morning's H-J reports that city council will approve a $4.2 million dollar redevelopment plan today for the airport.

Improvements planned for the airport are the renovation and expansion of the terminal building, parking lot improvements, construction of a small park/memorial garden and two hangar buildings.

Renderings of the renovation and expansion of the 1936 terminal building are available for public viewing at the airport. This is good news for preservationists in our community as the terminal has a number of streamline moderne features that were commonplace for public buildings constructed during the 1930's. Personally, I'm delighted the building will be preserved and not torn down like many of our architecturally historic buildings.

Edited by roads-scholar

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Hopefully they will preserve most of the historically significant design elements during the renovation. When the old Greenville Downtown Airport terminal was renovated over a decade ago, the interior was gutted and completely changed into a modern design. It is very nice now, but sad to lovers of its original architectural design.

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I agree with both of you. As the first airport in South Carolina, the Downtown Airport should put its history in terms of architecture and its impact on the county/region/state over the years.

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Lots of fun stuff is happening at the Downtown Airport.

A couple of fun facts: which I just learned

SPA is the 3rd largest general aviation airport in South Carolina. I'm assuming that is behind Owens Field in Columbia and Greenville Municipal but if any of you airport junkies know otherwise please let us know :). It also has a $15.4 million economic impact on Spartanburg.

Construction on the following items is expected to start in May:

  • Upgrade of existing facility
  • A new terminal
  • Improvements will include a watch tower for aviation enthusiasts to watch airplanes take off and land
  • 20 new hangars will be built
  • the tarmac will be reconfigured and enlarged to accommodate more and heavier aircraft
  • Playground (private funding)

The article also says that the historic architecture of the building will be preserved, though it does not get into any details about how that will happen..4

airport_terminal.jpg

HJ Article

Here's a nother article that discusses the history of the airport. It's fairly general but itlooks like they are goign to release a book about the airport in conjunction with the airport upgrades that are going to happen.

HJ Article on SPA History

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Lots of fun stuff is happening at the Downtown Airport.

A couple of fun facts: which I just learned

SPA is the 3rd largest general aviation airport in South Carolina. I'm assuming that is behind Owens Field in Columbia and Greenville Municipal but if any of you airport junkies know otherwise please let us know :). It also has a $15.4 million economic impact on Spartanburg.

Construction on the following items is expected to start in May:

  • Upgrade of existing facility
  • A new terminal
  • Improvements will include a watch tower for aviation enthusiasts to watch airplanes take off and land
  • 20 new hangars will be built
  • the tarmac will be reconfigured and enlarged to accommodate more and heavier aircraft
  • Playground (private funding)

The article also says that the historic architecture of the building will be preserved, though it does not get into any details about how that will happen..4

airport_terminal.jpg

HJ Article

Here's a nother article that discusses the history of the airport. It's fairly general but itlooks like they are goign to release a book about the airport in conjunction with the airport upgrades that are going to happen.

HJ Article on SPA History

Thanks for posting this Spartan as I've been unable to find the time today to do it...anyhow this is terrific news for Spartanburg and those (like me) with an interest in aviation. I hope to be in attendance for the groundbreaking.

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Recent WYFF-TV report about the airport's renovatons:

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I found an update here on the Downtown Memorial Airport construction. They are currently doing some interior demolition in the terminal building to prepare for expansion. The article has some details about the expansion.

GSA Business article

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