The Van Wert County Courthouse

Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022

Airport sets date for terminal dedication

Independent staff and submitted information

Van Wert County Regional Airport is an important gateway to the community, and the Airport Authority decided to replace its 300-square-foot terminal. The airport has seen more and more plane traffic, especially jets and turboprops, and the small terminal did not appeal to visitors, as it was too small for pilots to relax and do their paperwork. 

The FAA will sometimes provide some federal money to build a new terminal, but such a structure would be basic, with no frills. Not wanting to go that route, a group of businessmen raised nearly $1.5 million to build a new terminal. The money raised was all private money with no FAA monies involved. 

Artist’s conception of the new airport terminal.

Local business leaders knew that, for Van Wert to grow, the airport terminal had to be updated. In addition, with the community trying to attract new businesses, some of which have aircraft, the new terminal will be a great asset for new development.

Moreover, some existing local businesses use charter services that land in Van Wert to pick up or drop off passengers. Unfortunately, a lot of planes have previously flown to Fort Wayne, Indiana, because it is nicer at that airport,

However, the dream of a new and well-appointed terminal has come true with the grand opening of the J.L. Rice Terminal being held Saturday, August 7. The new 4,600-square-foot terminal has a modern look and feel, and there will be an area for pilots, so they can get in a recliner or watch TV, take a shower, wash their clothes, and even have the use of a quiet room with just a recliner and no lights. 

The terminal will also include an executive conference room that can be rented, while those taking pilot training will have a room designed for that purpose as well. The terminal also includes a beautiful passenger lounge with a TV and fireplace.

The grand opening activities, which are open to the public, start with a pancake breakfast at Elks Lodge 1197 from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. Food trucks will serve food from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. A ribbon-cutting will be held at 10:30 that morning, while airplane rides will once again be available for purchase at the new terminal. 

Goodfolks & O’Tymes will be providing rides in its biplane, along with the airport’s 172 Cessna. 

Mike Hemmelgarn will be in the terminal area blowing up balloons into different shapes for the kids from 9-11:45 a.m., and there will be several large jets, such as Scott Niswonger’s Gulfstream 450, on display and available for those wanting to take pictures.

There will be shuttles to bring visitors from the Elks that day, and, If the airport parking areas get too full, airport officials will likely use the airport’s grass runway located across from the new The Landing at Dickinson Farms residential subdivision.

For more information, call the airport at 419.232.4500 or 419.203.1351.

POSTED: 07/31/21 at 1:45 am. FILED UNDER: News