The Lockheed C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft is nearly 40 feet tall, 100 feet long, weighs 75,800 pounds and has a wingspan of 132 feet and seven inches. Now that construction is complete on a new, large airplane hangar at the Albertville Regional Airport, it may not be long before one lands in our area.
Airport Director Jerry Cofield said the new 22,500 square-foot hangar is the largest the City of Albertville has ever built — the 100,000 square-foot hangar currently housing BAE Systems corporate aircraft was not built by the city — and it was done so to be able to accommodate the C-130 and other military aircrafts.
“That’s why it was built big,” Cofield said. “So, it can handle large, government aircraft.”
RainAir Aviation leased the new hanger starting in June and has since been working on attracting government contracts, he said.
“When you got a hangar that holds a C-130, the military is very interested in it, so RainAir’s trying to get some C-130 work brought in,” he said.
While the hangar was made to be able to hold large aircraft, it is also ideal for storing several smaller jets and airplanes. The main door on the hangar opens up to 140 feet wide and is 28 feet tall with an expansion garage-type door in the middle to open up to 40 feet to accommodate the tail of a C-130. The hangar also has its own dedicated sprinkler and alarm system and room for office space.
Even though the airport recently received $380,200 in grant money from the FFA, Cofield, who has been the director for more than 15 years, said none of that money was used to cover the cost of the new hangar, which was approximately $1.6 million.
“The FFA does not participate in buildings,” he said. “They participate in the runway, the taxiway, the ramp, purchasing property for the airport — everything but buildings. The city built this on the city’s dime. Now, that’s my job to find a way to pay for it, to build it, to rent it. The airport board… recommended that we build this facility because it can bring additional aircraft and jobs into the city and the airport. So, it was great to do it.”
Cofield said the current lease income pays for the monthly debt service on the hangar.
“The facility is quite expensive, but it has a tremendous value to it,” Cofield said. “The beauty of having a C-130 hangar is this is one of only two in North Alabama… Knowing that there’s a lot of government stuff going on in North Alabama and a lot of C-130 work that needs to be done up here, we felt like it was a good time to build a C-130 capable hangar to meet a demand that we felt like is coming. Sure enough, we got a lot of interest right now.”
The new hangar is just the latest upgrade to be added to the 375-acre airport as part of its 10-year long range plan, which also includes more small hangars and eventually rerouting Alabama Highway 75 to allow for more usable construction space. The airport currently has 38 small hangars and nine large ones, and 85% of the roughly 10,000 flights per year are corporate related, Cofield, who’s been a pilot for more than 30 years, said.