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GSP post may get second helicopter, new hangar

Sgt. Herbert Craven is keeping his fingers crossed. The helicopter pilot for the Georgia State Patrol could soon see a new hangar built at the Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport if several state and local leaders get their way.

State Sen. Jim Whitehead proposed a replacement for the oldest GSP hangar still in use. Built in 1975, the current hangar is too small to house a second helicopter and pilot that are on the way in November, Sgt. Craven said.

"The trouble that we have here with this building is that it's only 60-by-45," he said. "It's got room for about one office in it, and we're going to have to make it into two. So we're going to be stepping over one another."

The proposed building would be 75-by-75 of hangar space and 25-by-25 for living and office space. Should the state funding come through, construction could begin as early as late spring although a solid location for the hangar has not been set.

The helicopter's service area covers 20 counties, and its current location provides many benefits to McDuffie County, officials said. Having a law enforcement presence at the airport 24 hours a day helps by attracting additional airport business, Sgt. Craven said.

McDuffie County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton told Thomson Rotary Club members last week that having the helicopter stationed at the airport provides quicker search services to the county. Sgt. Craven said local officials have all been lobbying hard for the new hangar.

"Hopefully this will come through and give us a little bit better base to work out of to provide the aviation services to the people of the CSRA," Sgt. Craven said.

Ownership of the current hangar would revert back to the city and county once the new one is built, according to Sgt. Craven. The governments could then use it for rental.

Web posted on Wednesday, March 1, 2006

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