In the 1980s, Fulton County’s government recognized the importance of having an airport to fuel economic development, and the county made that a reality when it opened the Fulton County Airport, a publicly owned, public-use general aviation airport with a 4,000-foot runway in Johnstown.
Located within New York’s Technology Triangle, the airport is no more than an eight-minute drive from five industrial and business parks that are suited for a wide variety of industries, with shovel-ready sites and in some cases, buildings. These parks are ideal for high-tech, manufacturing, healthcare, food processing, biomedical research and development, electronics, and renewable energy, to name just a few. “There is quick access from the airport to those parks,” said Scott Henze, planning director for Fulton County.
The Wesson Group LLC, a multifaceted company that specializes in heavy civil construction that focuses on the renewable energy markets, is just one Fulton County firm that benefits from having the airport located just two miles from its Johnstown location. “Senior management is able to spend their time on more productive tasks because they aren’t traveling [50 minutes] to Albany to catch a flight,” said Ashley Delaney-Olson, the company’s director of human resources. When executives need to be somewhere quickly, they charter a flight with pilot Mike Ezzo of Air Charter Express, saving themselves the drive, security lines, and pre-flight wait time required at Albany International Airport. Over the past decade, Wesson’s executives have used the airport to fly to meetings in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maryland.
“There is quick access from the airport to those parks,”
said Scott Henze, planning director for Fulton County.
The 195 Factory, LLC, serves as the airport’s fixed base operator. This company is globally known for its servicing and restoration of Cessna 195 and 190 aircraft. “People from other parts of the world will fly their Cessnas in to have work done,” Henze said.
The airport is also home to other businesses, including R&R Aviation that owns two hangars where it stores planes and performs aircraft maintenance.
The Fulton County Airport is an affordable option. “At some of those airports that are located more in the central Capital District, prices for hangars and hangar space are pretty expensive,” Henze said. “With a little farther traveling distance, a facility would be constructed for a lot less money,” he said.
Fulton County continues to improve the airport. The county’s 2021 capital plan provided for a $1.25 million main apron reconstruction project which it plans to begin this year.
Construction of an additional hangar is currently underway with expected completion in October 2021. This hangar will house a new business to the county, LifeNet of New York, a company owned and operated by the Englewood, Colorado-based Air Methods Corporation.
When LifeNet was outgrowing its facility at Glen, New York, where it began operating in 2004, management scouted out a new location and chose the Fulton County Airport. LifeNet has a pilot, nurse, and paramedic at the airport at all times to respond to scenes where people have been critically injured and medevac them to hospitals for treatment. “It’s a great project for us here, because it will bring a 24/7/365 presence to the airport,” Henze said.
In addition to rapid-response calls, LifeNet also provides transport for patients from smaller hospitals to larger ones in big cities including Albany, Boston, and New York City. The county is also refurbishing a building that will serve as crew quarters for those on duty. “We broke ground on June 1, 2021, and anticipate being finished the first of November,” said Stephen Konold, the company’s area manager for the Tri-State New York and Northeast Region.
Flight instruction also takes place at the airport, and many pilots fly in for recreational purposes. A potential business opportunity exists for a Restauranteur to open an eatery at the airport, as the diner that used be there closed. “Pilots from all over would fly into this airport, have lunch in the diner with some friends, and fly out,” Henze said.
There is space for other business opportunities as well. “In our airport master plan, we do have sections of the airport that we have identified as potentially supporting some other type of commercial site—development that would support aviation,” Henze said. “There are other opportunities for experimental kind of aircraft—something that could possibly be on the horizon if we found the right company,” he said.