The MidCoast Regional Airport Joint Management Board has contracted with Heath Aviation to operate the airport on Fort Stewart.
Midcoast is a joint military and civilian operation, governed by the U.S. Army, and the Liberty County Board of Commissioners, city of Hinesville and Liberty County Development Authority.
“We are pleased to announce the contract with Heath Aviation,” Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown, who is also chairman of the JMB, said. “We’re especially pleased that Heath Aviation is local.”
The company is owned by Sean Heath, a Gum Branch resident who owns several successful businesses.
“We’re definitely honored to be selected,” Heath said. “It’ll be a great partnership with Liberty County and Heath Aviation for this joint venture so we can both grow, grow the FBO (fixed base operations) and grow the airport. Marketing is going to be the key to the success of the airport and growth.
We want to see fuel sales go up, as well as take-offs and landings.”
He is a commercial pilot, as is Heath Aviation’s marketing manager and technical and safety advisor, Gene Long.
A firefighter since 1985, Long had a 10-year (1988-98) career as medic and licensed practical nurse in the U.S. Army and Georgia National Guard.
Long is also a certified instrument flight instructor and member of the Reidsville Airport Authority in Tattnall County. That airport houses a flight school, Midcoast Aviation, that also operates a flight school at Midcoast Regional. Midcoast Aviation also operates an FAA approved testing center in Reidsville.
Heath said there is a plan to move the center, which tests several aviation topics, not just pilots, to MCRA. “The flight school is on board. They like the idea,” he said. “We’ve got to get FAA approval to move the center.”
If it moves, business at local motels and restaurants, as well as the airport, would increase because some of the tests are lengthy. “We’re looking for growth in the whole community, along with the airport,”
Heath said. “We’d like to promote local businesses and will do that with the website, advertising local hotels that are willing to give pilot discounts, along with fishing charters and things like Dorchester (Shooting Preserve) that people would fly in for.”