The Enterprise - - Com­mu­nity Fo­rum -

cur­rently to­tals more than $50 mil­lion; and yet, for pa­tients and the fam­ily mem­bers of those trav­el­ing in­side the Mary­land State Po­lice Trooper 7 he­li­copter, or on a MedS­tar in­ter­hos­pi­tal trans­fer flight, the re­ward can be price­less.

For a small lo­cal air­port with hum­ble be­gin­nings, no build­ings and a 3,150foot run­way, the ca­pa­bil­ity to ac­com­mo­date char­ter ser­vices, cor­po­rate flights by large na­tional chains, pi­lot train­ing, air­craft mod­i­fi­ca­tion, emer­gency ser­vices and a soon-tobe ac­tive ter­mi­nal with a pi­lot shop and plan­ning fa­cil­ity, small cof­fee shop and a restau­rant will be the long-awaited re­sult of many years of ded­i­ca­tion, col­lab­o­ra­tion and dreams of mak­ing avi­a­tion his­tory — all thanks to more than 100 con­trac­tors, con­sul­tants, lo­cal busi­nesses and gov­ern­ment agen­cies.

The ex­pan­sion project at the air­port will make an im­pact on the com­mu­nity that can­not be over­stated, St. Mary’s Com­mis­sioner Tom Jar­boe (R) said. He views the in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment at the air­port as a means to di­ver­sify the busi­ness com­mu­nity, and “bridge the gap be­tween those that work in naval con­tract sup­port ser­vices [at Naval Air Sta­tion Patux­ent River] with those who turn wrenches in the lo­cal com­mu­nity.”

For the St. Mary’s county-based en­tre­pre­neur­ial de­vel­op­ment com­pany, S. Hunt Aero, the project pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to source lo­cal work­ers, ma­te­ri­als and re­sources in or­der to share their pas­sion for avi­a­tion and in­no­va­tion, while pro­vid­ing world-class fa­cil­i­ties and ben­e­fits to the com­mu­nity as a whole.

For in­ven­tors and tech star­tups, mar­ket­ing and con­sult­ing com­pany, Tech Port of­fers to foster emerg­ing in­no­va­tors as they ma­ture tech­ni­cal con­cepts and ideas into prof­itable busi­nesses, “at light­ning speed” via the trend­ing “in­cu­ba­tor” con­cept. Tech­port stake­hold­ers in­clude the Naval Air War­fare Cen­ter Air­craft Divi­sion, the Univer­sity of Mary­land, TEDCO and county gov­ern­ment.

For pro­fes­sional avi­a­tors, the ad­di­tional 1,200 feet of run­way will pro­vide the abil­ity to land a higher class of cor­po­rate air­craft, while pre­serv­ing sur­round­ing neigh­bor­hoods and pro­vid­ing min­i­mal en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact and noise dis­rup­tion.

The air­port has be­come a home base for emer­gency re­spon­ders, such as the Mary­land State Po­lice Avi­a­tion Com­mand and the MedS­tar Trans­port He­li­copter Ser­vice, which pro­vide ser­vices to South­ern Mary­land.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the air­port pro­vides flight-line and air sup­port to the U.S. Air Force Aux­il­iary Civil Air Pa­trol. Ev­ery year, over 1,500 mem­bers of the Civil Air Pa­trol Mary­land Wing per­form search and res­cue, dis­as­ter re­lief, emer­gency ser­vice, and home­land se­cu­rity mis­sions in the United States, ac­cord­ing to their web­site. Ap­prox­i­mately 100 of them are based at St. Mary’s.

The air­port-based, Univer­sity of Mary­land Un­manned Air­craft Sys- tems Test Site, is home to the Talon 120LE fixed wing air­craft, whose record-break­ing 12-mile flight across the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay marked the state’s first civil un­manned aerial de­liv­ery of sim­u­lated med­i­cal cargo. The achieve­ment of the Talon 120 demon­strated the key role that UAS can play in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions.

“UAS are faster to de­ploy, less weather de­pen­dent, and less ex­pen­sive,” said Matt Scassero, direc­tor of the UMD UAS Test Site.

UAS engi­neers have de­vel­oped the ca­pa­bil­ity to con­duct life-sav­ing ef­forts through the de­liv­ery of self-in­flat­ing life pre­servers and vi­tal med­i­cal sup­plies to ar­eas that are un­able to be ac­cessed as a re­sult of nat­u­ral or man­made dis­as­ters. Up­com­ing re­search is ex­plor­ing the po­ten­tial of or­gan-de­liv­ery ser­vices, and other emer­gency re­sponse ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

“The pos­si­bil­i­ties are endless,” said Scassero with a broad smile, adding that “we all have in­cred­i­ble pas­sion for this project.”

Pas­sion and ex­cite­ment for the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in a col­lab­o­ra­tion of eco­nomic di­ver­sity are part of the core val­ues ex­pressed by the man­ag­ing part­ners of air­port-based com­pa­nies, Pax Aero So­lu­tions, Airtec, UMD UAS Test Site, Tech­Port, ASEC and S. Hunt Aero.

Shar­ing this pas­sion, Art Nalls, a for­mer U.S. Marine Corps test pi­lot, once made his­tory at the air­port, by breath­ing life into a then 31-year-old de­com­mis­sioned Sea Har­rier jump jet, on the af­ter­noon of Nov. 10, 2007 — a first for a non-mil­i­tary pi­lot. La­beled by Nalls Avi­a­tion as the world’s only civil­ian owned Har­rier, the team de­scribes the air­craft as a true 0-to-650 knot air­plane, and vows to “use ev­ery one of them.”

From the 26,200 pounds of Nalls’ Sea Har­rier, to the 22 pounds of the Talon 120 UAV, the hangars of the county air­port are home to many air­craft tech­nolo­gies mak­ing avi­a­tion his­tory. And with the ex­pan­sion of the air­port’s fa­cil­i­ties and ca­pa­bil­i­ties, those in­volved hope for a great deal more his­tory to be made at the site.


A view of St. Mary’s County Re­gional Air­port, as seen from the cur­rent run­way site. Flags in the back­ground mark the Pied­mont Flight Cen­ter, where the gen­eral pub­lic is en­cour­aged to en­roll in flight lessons and ex­plore the won­der of avi­a­tion.

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