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Hangar business is brisk at airport

Plans call for building 63 hangars on 18 acres

by: KEVIN GABOURY/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - The framing is up on two new hangars at the Prineville Airport and the airport commission forsees many more being built in the future.


   The Prineville Airport Commission is now in the business of leasing hangar space at the Prineville Airport and according to Frank Porfily, secretary of the commission, business so far is good.
   "We've had a pretty good response of people wanting to build hangars and actually signing leases to build hangars up there now," he said.
   But it wasn't always this way.
   In the late 1970's, private interest to build hangars at the airport ran high, but the airport commission at the time would have nothing to do with it.
   "There was a commission that ran the airport and they had a tight little knot. They wouldn't let anybody build hangars. It was almost impossible to get a piece of ground to build a hangar on," Porfily said.
   The airport was also operated by a full-time manager, who was paid $60,000 a year plus expenses by the city, but was rarely on site when needed, according to Porfily.
   By 1997, the city and county finally realized the set-up wasn't working and formed a four-member airport commission comprised of people from both the city and the county, and operation of the airport was turned over to them.
   "Instead of saying, 'you can't do this,' we said, 'how can we help you do this?'" Porfily said of the new arrangement.
   When the airport commission was first formed, the city was paying around $60,000 per year just to operate the airport.
   "One of our goals was to turn that around and make it self-sufficient, where all we would need money for is development," Porfily said.
   They succeeded, and the airport has been self-sufficient ever since, making most of its money from fuel sales and hangar leases.
   The airport currently has enough hangar space for 80 planes, but the commission has ambition to develop much more.
   The new master plan for the airport involves building 63 new hangars on an 18-acre site and a trip to the airport reveals construction is already underway.
   "We've got some ground, but there aren't enough people to fill it up yet," Porfily said. "We had a letter where about 35 people who wanted to build had their names listed over the last four or five years. What we've done is go through that list and contact everyone and about one third of them have signed a lease and they're going to build there. The rest of them are thinking about it."
   According to Porfily, the airport already has the infrastructure in place for the hangars, so all an interested party needs to do is lease a piece of property, pay for the utilities up front and build the hangar.
   He also mentioned that the price for leasing the hangar space is "very reasonable." The airport commission charges $0.14 per square foot per year. For a 55' x 56' hanger, which is average, the rent totals out to about $431 per year.
   Most of the hangars will be used for private aircraft with individual owners, but the airport has attracted some commercial business as well.
   "We've got one outfit that wants to put an upholstery shop in as a business," Porfily said. "That's the only one so far."
   But that doesn't mean he wants to stop there.
    "I expect that it's going to happen fast," Porfily said, of hangars being built. "It's hard to find places at, say, the Redmond and Bend airports that do the same thing we're doing here."
   For Porfily and the airport commission, things are going quite well, and this trend is expected to continue.
   "If you look back 10 years ago, it's a huge change from what it was. Back then, there were only about 30 airplanes. Now there are about 82," Porfily said.