County airport to build 20 new hangars
The Marion County Airport, nestled in the rural area near Dunnellon, can be overlooked by many. But the crisscrossed runways of the 1940s-era airfield are a hub of activity for general aviation air traffic.
Things are so busy that the Marion County Commission on Tuesday agreed to move forward on a plan to build 20 new T-hangars, which it will rent to plane owners for aircraft storage.
The airport already has 48 T-hangars, but a waiting list of more than 100 names long waits for a hangar to open.
The 20 new hangars are estimated to cost more than $2.8 million. A grant from the Florida Department of Transportation will cover 80% of the cost. But the county is responsible for the other 20%, which comes to just less than $610,000.
In a rarely used move between county departments, the airport will borrow $236,342 from the county parks and recreation department through an interest-free loan. The remaining $373,643 will come from the airport budget. The rent from the new T-hangars should generate $70,000 per year, of which $35,000 will go to repay the loan starting in 2023, county documents state.
The Marion County Airport, alternately know as Dunnellon airport and X35 – its Federal Aviation Administration identifier – dates to World War II when it was known as Dunnellon Army Airfield. The airfield opened in August 1942 and was used for training. After the war, the army turned it over to the county.
The airport includes nearly 800 acres and operates two runways. One is 5,000 feet long by 100 feet wide. The second runway is 4,700-feet long by 60 feet wide.
The airport includes a privately owned flight school and an airplane maintenance facility.
While the Ocala International Airport, the county’s more recognized airport, averaged 171 aircraft operations per day in 2020, the Marion County Airport averaged 106 aircraft operations per day in 2018, the most recent figures available. An aircraft operation includes any time an aircraft takes off or lands.