March 19, 2011

“Virginia’s Leesburg Executive Airport, and the community surrounding it, benefits from aircraft traffic at the facility, including flights made by two- dozen twins, five helicopters and a half-dozen jets,” said Airport Manager Tim Deike. A large number of them are used “in the performance of business,” connecting companies of all sizes to opportunities in Washington, DC, which is a quick 37-mile trip away on Route 267, the Dulles Greenway.

The non-towered airport sits just inside DC’s Special Flight Rules Area, three miles south of Leesburg. JYO’s single runway averages 130,000 landing-fee-free operations a year and boasts four flight schools and a single, full-service FBO, Landmark Aviation.

According to a 2004 economic impact survey, Leesburg “contributed $42 million to the regional economy and generated 612 jobs.” Deike said he’s eagerly awaiting the results of the latest impact survey, due in September. “I’m sure the economic impact has grown, because we’ve grown.”

“Leesburg is basically at capacity,” Deike said, with waiting lists for both tie downs and hangars. The airport’s major 2008 project “deconstructed the south apron,” as well as 34 tie downs and two old 10-aircraft hangars. The replacement has 23 tie downs, all occupied. Ten more T-hangars and six hangars used by business should be ready by 2010. Further growth depends on the 214-acre airport’s plan to buy an adjoining 40 acres. If the ongoing environmental assessment is good, and after an appraisal review, “we go to the landowner and make an offer,” Deike says.

Thanks to the airport’s nine-member Advisory Commission, Deike successfully dealt with another land issue. A developer wanted to build houses across the fence, 500 feet from the end of the runway. “We convinced the county board that it would be a bad idea from both a noise and a safety perspective,” Deike says. Nothing has been done with the land yet, but it was rezoned for businesses. “That would be great because there are no gas stations or restaurants out this way.”

Opened in October 1964, Leesburg Executive got its start when radio and TV personality Arthur Godfrey (recipient of NBAA’s first Meritorious Service to Aviation Award in 1950) sold his grass airport east of town, home to his DC-3, and gave some of the proceeds to build JYO. Leesburg has directly managed the airport since 1993. Since then, state and federal funding have allowed it to lengthen the runway twice, add an AWOS, and install VOR/GPS-A, GPS/LPV and LOC approaches.

Runway 17 at JYO is now equipped with an instrument landing system (ILS), which went into service March 10, thanks to a combination of FAA and stimulus funding. Leesburg, VA mayor Kristen Umstattd was onboard a ceremonial “first approach” flight for the ILS, and local officials, including U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10-VA), were on hand for the dedication.