WINNSBORO — Small county airports might initially bring to mind hobbyist pilots with the occasional chartered plane’s landing and takeoff, but much more occurs than that at the Fairfield County Airport.
During November’s Aviation Month, Tim Mitchell, the head flight instructor who also handles marketing and PR for the establishment, gave The Herald an update on the airport’s many functions.
About a year ago the airport runway was resurfaced. Recently, the ramp where planes park was repainted and resurfaced.
“That area looks really good now, too,” Mitchell said.
New fencing was placed along the property, helping keep the area secure and keeping out coyotes and associated scavengers.
Mitchell said that commercial air travel to and from the airport is a reality.
The runway is large enough now to accommodate commercial traffic and the runway qualifies with reduced weather certification. Jet and aviation fuel requirements also are met, making the Fairfield Airport a viable option for companies’ chartered air travel. Mitchell said that on occasion the nuclear plant will use the airport but that few other businesses have made a habit of using it as of yet.
The airport has been involved in some educational efforts, though Mitchell said it is open to expanding that area if possible. They have hosted after school programs where children can tour the airport and watch planes take off and land. One of the part-time instructors is the leader of the Irmo High School ROTC, so he brings his students there for airplane instruction.
Mitchell said the Civil Air Patrol regularly uses the airport as well, though there is no civil air patrol in Fairfield County.
“The airport is at a prime location for them to fly cadets in, swap out cadets, and then fly out,” Mitchell said.
Occasionally crop dusters come by for a few days at a time. Recently the S.C. National Guard used the facility in training exercises. Mitchell said that SLED often uses the airport as a staging area where they can collect Fairfield County law enforcement before going on drug searches.
In the spring, the airport hosts Wings and Wheels of Winnsboro. Mitchell said the event includes larger planes, remote controlled planes, police and firefighters, outside vendors, and that the Jungle Aviation and Radio Service (JAARS) missionary organization from the Charlotte area often gives rides in planes and helicopters during the event.
“The JAARS organization does a lot with flying missionaries to remote areas, so they are up on maintenance and aircraft repair procedures,” Mitchell said.
Once a year, the South Carolina Breakfast Club chooses airports all over the state. Members fly in and then a big breakfast is served the pilots and crew members. Mitchell said that Fairfield Airport usually is included on that list each year, too.
The airport has made an increased effort to push flight training at its facility, using 90 Living Social deals as promotional tools to get persons interested in flying. The coupons applied to a 30 minute sightseeing trip and time of exploration into aviation.
The facility serves professional and amateur pilots. Mitchell said that everyone pretty much starts at the same level of instruction but that others put more into it with the eventual goals of being a commercial pilot or flying in the military.
The airport is a laser grade rated center and also is an avionics facility. As a avionics facility, the airport handles the installation and repair of radios and GPS systems, as well as basic plane maintenance.
Private hangers are available as well, for those whom the flying bug bit enough that they purchased their own planes. Persons interested in flying and/or avionics can find more information at www.ssaviation-sc.com or by looking up S and S Aviation on Facebook.
Kevin Boozer can be reached
at 635-4016 ext. 14 or