A 75-year-old World War II-era hangar at Tullahoma Regional Airport in Coffee County, Tennessee, has been sold to a company that will refurbish it to house three new businesses.
Lynchburg Machine Tool CEO Mike Williamson said the nearly $1 million project will consist of three new companies, including the expansion of Lynchburg Machine Tool’s operations from nearby Moore County, according to a statement issued last week by the Tullahoma Area Economic Development Corporation.
“We want to restore, as closely as possible, the outside of the building to its original look, while adding interior build-outs that will upgrade the capabilities for our new operations,” Williamson said.
The Tullahoma Regional Airport, originally built in 1942, has one 5,500-foot-long runway, another 4,200-foot-long runway and a grass runway that’s 2,700 feet long. It has undergone improvements in recent years including a new terminal building, 19 new hangars completed in 2008 and four more in 2010. The airport was also got $2 million in upgrades in 2014 to drainage, lighting, ramps and a maintenance hangar.
Tullahoma is also home to Arnold Engineering and Developing Complex and Arnold Air Force Base so the community’s military roots go deep and the airport is part of that history.
The hangar harks back to those days when Tullahoma was home for basic military training for U.S. Army recruits during World War II, according to a 2007 Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation report, “An Archaeological Survey of World War II Military Sites in Tennessee.” A boiler room and storage building also still stand at the site, the report states.
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Williamson will offer hangar space for corporate and general aviation aircraft, and general maintenance will be available to locally-stationed aircraft and transient planes, he said. Plans for a Federal Aviation Administration repair station are being developed, pending agency approval. An existing flight school on the field, Tullahoma Aviation Company, will be housed there, he said.
Tullahoma Mayor Ray Knowis and Tullahoma Municipal Airport manager Jon Glass applauded the project’s step forward.
“Mike Williamson, with this big investment, is not only creating three new companies and adding 10 to12 people, but he is saving a historic building that is a large reminder of our early involvement in the aviation sector,” Knowis said. “The World War II hangar is symbolic of the beginnings of our new economy and I am so happy that it will be saved and refurbished.”
Glass sees significant economic and historical benefits for the airport.
“We believe that this project will not only restore one of our airport’s iconic images, but will offer additional needed services to our customers for years to come,” Glass said.
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Lynn Sebourn, chairman of the economic development corporation’s board, said the project fits right into efforts to keep boosting the local economy.
“One of the four main areas of our work plan is to help attract and grow businesses in the aviation and aerospace sectors, and this project is a symbol of the types of investment we want to have,” Sebourn said.
Contact Ben Benton at email@example.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.