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In plane view: Airport gets ready for Masters Week spectators

This Masters week, it's BYOC at the Thomson-McDuffie Airport. Everyone who loves to watch planes is invited to bring their chair and watch the airport's busiest week of the year.

"We love to have people out here. The kids just love it - we enjoy the 'oohs and ahs' we hear when the planes land and take off," said Sonya Hardin, the customer service representative.

Last year during Masters Week, the airport had 177 planes fly in, and this year they should have even more, according to Keith Bounds, the owner of Spirit Aviation, which manages the airport.

Many people came last year to watch the plane traffic, and Ms. Hardin said it became a problem when spectators blocked the parking lot and other traffic-flow areas. This year, Spirit Aviation has plans to accommodate everyone and keep them safe.

The grassy square lot between the terminal and the fire station has been designated the "fence-watchers' spot." Ms. Hardin said this will keep the parking lot free for traffic, and will discourage unauthorized people from going past the fence or through the doors to the ramp, where they could possibly get hurt.

Plans are also being made, but not yet finalized, for a concessions tent to be set up.

"I feel like it would do a lot of good. It would give the community even more incentive to come out...and it keeps people over in that grassy area for safety reasons," Ms. Hardin said.

To encourage more planes to land in McDuffie County instead of Augusta, Mr. Bounds passed out literature at a schedulers and dispatchers convention in San Antonio recently. He has also put advertising on websites these people would search.

Ms. Harbin said they "already have quite a few reservations that we've never had before."

"(Mr. Bounds) has done a lot out here. He wants this place to grow. He's putting forth what it takes to make it grow. All the personnel up here ... do what it takes to please the customers," she said.

Masters Week is April 3-9. According to Ms. Harbin, the busiest times when spectators can see the most plane activity are Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

"The latter part of the morning and then throughout the day, it's hopping around here," she said.

Web posted on Thursday, March 30, 2006

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