A year into the job, airport director gives an update

Eric Ramsdell, director of the Rock Hill/York County Airport, stands near a model plane and the airport sign on Monday.
Eric Ramsdell, director of the Rock Hill/York County Airport, stands near a model plane and the airport sign on Monday.

Eric Ramsdell climbed on board a year ago as director of the Rock Hill/York County Airport.

His arrival came at a busy time, with a number of projects planned or taking place at the facility off Museum Road on the northwest side of town.

Ramsdell, who replaced the retiring Gene Musselwhite, talked to The Herald on Monday about what's happening at the airport.

Q. What's the latest on expansion projects at the airport?

A. We were issued a grant by the FAA (for $150,000), and we're going to do design work on two projects. One is for a T-hangar area south of the current shadeport. The other is specifically for corporate ... companies that would want their own individual hangars. The next step after the design work would be the actual construction.

We need the space. There's a waiting list for T-hangars. If you want to attract more corporations, you need to have a place to put more airplanes.

Q. What are the busiest times at the airport?

A. From a corporate standpoint, you can see airplanes any time. The corporate planes typically come in early in the morning and leave late in the afternoon. You see the recreational pilots on the weekends.

Q. Some wonder if Rock Hill will one day get commercial airline service. Is that possible?

A. That is a real unknown, given our location close to Charlotte. It would have to be to a very specific destination -- possibly the beach in the summertime and wherever there is skiing in the wintertime. There is a relatively new element coming out utilizing the small, very light jets. A lot of air taxi operations are putting these into service. I see somebody operating an air taxi operation. We could see that.

Q. How would that operation work?

A. Just like an airborne taxi. It's a single-engine airplane that would have one pilot and three passenger seats. There's a propeller model in Greenville that is quite active. It might be a way to base an airplane here.

Q. Is it realistic to think US Airways or Delta would ever fly planes to Rock Hill?

A. My suspicion is probably not. We are a designated reliever airport for Charlotte. That means we have shown that we're busy (and) we have all of the infrastructure to accept traffic from airports suffering delays. It would be any non-airline traffic, typically corporate jets.

I don't see us, certainly in the near future, doing something like a scheduled carrier service. But I would see us getting some of the corporate traffic (Charlotte) is trying to offload.

Q. Much has been made recently of new housing projects approved across the street from the runway. Is the proximity of homes and planes causing problems?

A. We're trying to be good neighbors in terms of noise. Thus far, we've had a good relationship with the neighborhoods around here. There are techniques that can be used ... such as not doing engine run-ups late at night, always departing from the end of the runway. There are a number of things pilots can do, and we ask them to.

Q. What's the biggest airplane you've seen land here?

A. Probably a Challenger Bombardier. We've seen some three-engine Falcons. They can be configured to seat anywhere from 12 to 19 people.