A civilian-military partnership now nearly 20 years old is still beneficial to all involved, officials said.
Civilian representatives and Fort Stewart garrison commander Col. Manny Ramirez signed the agreement that continues the operation of MidCoast Regional Airport at the post’s Wright Army Airfield.
“This agreement is a great example of the symbiotic relationship that Fort Stewart has with the surrounding communities,” Col. Ramirez said. “This facility is dual use. So it’s really a win-win situation for all of us concerned and a really good example of how embedded we are with the surrounding community.”
The MidCoast Regional Airport is a cooperative effort between the City of Hinesville, the Liberty County commissioners, the Liberty County Development Authority and the Army, working as a joint management board.
“This is probably one of the greatest things we’ve done in our community with our neighbors at Fort Stewart,” said Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown, who also sits on the LCDA.
“It’s been a tremendous success. It has very much surpassed what I had in mind.”
The original agreement between the Army and the civilian authorities also allowed the two runways there to be lengthened and improved.
Now, the airport is garnering more attention and business, officials said. All current hangars are full and there is a waiting list for T hangars and box hangars.
“If we had the capability, we could build 20 more hangars and still have a waiting list,” Brown said.
The airport is getting attention from corporate jet owners who want a place to park their craft, Brown added, something that didn’t happen with the old airport, a single runway off Airport Road.
“It allows so many more things to happen,” Brown said of MidCoast. “We have 150% more opportunity here.”
Under the original agreement, the airfield’s two runways were refurbished, and one was lengthened from 5,000 feet to 6,500 feet. That work has been a boon to both the civilian and military side.
“It’s expanded the civilian component because of all the repairs, and it has expanded the military component because it’s allowed us to conduct that much more training,” Col. Ramirez said. “With the pooling of our resources, we’re able to provide a much better facility than it was 20 years ago.
“It is a truly a mutually beneficial for both parties and a great example of the community relationship.”
The airfield at the base dates back to just after its founding in 1940, when it was called Camp Stewart Airfield.
While civilian traffic at the airfield is at a greater volume than military flights, Wright Army Airfield expects a busy summer. A runway at Hunter Army Airfield is undergoing work, so Wright could get some additional training missions.
“It allows for a lot of flexibility for us,” Col. Ramirez said.
The 224th Military Intelligence Battalion and special operations troops are scheduled to use Wright Army Airfield for training while Hunter’s main runway is repaired.
“It’s a very, very busy summer of training,” Col. Ramirez said.