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Hanover airport master plan discussions begin

The Hanover County Municipal Airport is shown from above.
Hanover County
The Hanover County Municipal Airport is located in the county's Ashland District. Every 20 years, the county-owned facility is required to have a new master plan created to map out its future.

The document will outline the facility's next 20 years.

More than 100 aircraft are based at the Hanover County Municipal Airport, about 10 miles north of downtown Richmond.

As airport manager Chuck Sobrito recently explained to the county’s Board of Supervisors, the facility is considered a general aviation regional airport as defined by the Virginia Department of Aviation. The facility offers full services for a variety of small aircraft, as well as midsize corporate jets operated by Richmond-based HOVA Flights Services.

The Ashland facility, built in 1971, manages no more than 10,000 passengers each year and takes on excess traffic from Richmond International Airport. The county recently celebrated a $2.4-million-dollar expansion when a 7,000-square-foot terminal with attached lobby, conference rooms and lounge opened in 2022.

“You've all been to the terminal and seen what a wonderful job they’ve done,” Sobrito told the board. “There’s a lot of untapped potential that we have out there, and it's now time to take another look.”

Sometime this fall, Sobrito said county officials and airport staff will begin to assemble its master plan — a guide outlining the facility’s short, intermediate and long-term goals for the next 20 years. The airport’s previous plan was developed in 2002.

“It’s now time to take another look,” Sobrito said. “It gives us an opportunity to provide and to re-evaluate the overall plans for the airport.”

The FAA requires all aircraft facilities built for public use to adopt a master plan or airport improvement plan to examine effectiveness, growth and safety.

“The airport community is pretty much one of the hardest working,” Ashland District Supervisor Faye Prichard said during a public presentation. “Everybody who is at the airport is 100% committed to operating one of the best regional facilities anywhere.”

Prichard said part of evaluating the airport’s growth will be to discuss what efforts are needed to reaffirm the airport’s status as a general aviation facility. The master plan discussion also will provide the community an opportunity to contribute their own ideas to the facility’s strategic growth. She said that feedback is especially important in a rural county like Hanover.

“We are not an airport and a community, we’re a community airport, and so we are 100% committed to doing everything we possibly can to get a lot of citizen feedback,” Prichard said.

Residents are encouraged to provide that feedback as the master plan process begins this fall with public outreach opportunities to follow next spring.

Until then, as Chickahominy District Supervisor Angela Kelly-Wiecek said, residents don't need to worry about the airport expanding its footprint.

“We are looking to be the best regional airport there is, but we're not interested in being the Charlottesville [or] Virginia Beach airport or something that's going to be taking major passenger trips,” Kelly-Wiecek said. “These are some of the things I hear, and that’s not our desire in Hanover.”

Lyndon German covers Henrico and Hanover counties for VPM News.
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