Brunswick, Maine, Poised for Aviation Avalanche

Brunswick Naval Air Station Mark Phelps

When the U.S. Navy decommissions the 800-acre airport portion of its Naval Air Station in Brunswick, Maine, in November, the runways, control tower and instrument landing system (ILS) are poised to revert to civilian operation. The Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA) has submitted its plans to the FAA and could open the day after the Navy turns over the keys. The rest of the base, 2,800 acres, is set to go civilian next spring, and MRRA has ambitious plans for the site. With acres of hangar space available — most constructed within the last 10 years, or less — the opportunities for development are expansive. MRRA Executive Director Steve Levesque said a joint project between a community college and the University of Maine will establish a program to be known as the Maine Advanced Technology Center on the grounds. The Center will focus on developing technologies in aerospace, specifically composites. The educational facility, and the promise of a trained workforce, is one reason Alan Klapmeier and Kestrel Aircraft chose Brunswick for its North American headquarters facility. Kestrel is leasing 92,000 square feet of a 176,000-square-foot hangar complex built in 2004, for its development and production. Klapmeier has an option for the rest of the building. With parallel 8,000-foot runways and ample large hangar space available, MRRA anticipates it will be attractive to airline and general aviation maintenance and refurb businesses, "large and small," said Levesque. Other features of the site include a recently added glycol recycling system, a 250-room hotel and approximately 700 rentable or saleable housing units, 70 percent of which have been built within the last decade. The Brunswick Naval Air Station, originally built to train British Fleet Air Arm Corsair fighter pilots during World War II, was built on the site of the first public airport in the state of Maine. "So now, it's going full circle," said Levesque.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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