Henderson Field Airport to receive $18 million expansion

A small Pender County airport is hoping to create more jobs and boost its local economy through an $18 million expansion.
Published: May. 1, 2023 at 7:58 AM EDT
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PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - A small airport in southeastern North Carolina is ready to expand both its runway and economic impact.

Henderson Field Airport in Pender County is set to receive an $18 million expansion, which will increase air traffic and provide more job opportunities for the community.

Some might be unaware of this smaller airport, even though it’s been in commission since 1955. It’s mainly used by local companies, farmers and vacationers.

Out of the 72 airports in North Carolina, only 10 of them offer commercial flights for passengers.

Right now, the airport contributes $15 million a year to our state’s economy and supports 60 jobs. When the expansion is completed, with 2025 being the estimated completion year, those numbers could double.

“A lot of people don’t realize that when businesses come to the area they’re actually flying into these smaller airports. So it’s not as much as wanting to have a nice airport, but wanting to cater business activity, create jobs, and overall help your local economy is the idea,” said Gage King, Henderson Field Airport manager.

The expansion, funded by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, has been a long time coming, with original plans put in place nearly a decade ago by the NCDOT.

Airport officials say they’re thrilled to finally get the ball rolling and start construction.

“Southeastern North Carolina is experiencing a lot of growth right now and that’s primarily in the Wilmington and coastal areas. But that’s creeping up inland and that’s what we’re experiencing here. We’re trying to hit that off, have a nice business class airport within Pender County and help that growth continue,” said King.

The renovations include expanding the runway by 1,400 feet, moving the terminal building farther from the runway and adding a parallel taxiway to hopefully park more aircraft.

You might think that $18 million is a lot to expand a runway by nearly a thousand feet, but most of the costs will come from rerouting multiple public near the airport.

Agricultural companies are the primary users of the airport, but with a growing community, the airport, which sees approximately eight to 50 flights a day, is hopeful to see more traffic in the future.

Henderson Field Airport is busiest when the farmers in the area need to spray their crops from above.

“Primarily our industries are focused on agriculture related companies. We have food processing companies, both north and south of the airport. We also have timber companies and farmers as well that are the primary source for our business industry. We also focus on tourism, which we get a lot of during the summer. Development companies are another big opportunity we see coming in the future,” said King.

The road relocation designs are set to be completed in May, with construction scheduled to begin shortly after.