Leesburg airport receives substantial grants to fund design work on rehab of largest runway

Leesburg International Airport has received two grants that largely will pay for the design portion of a rehabilitation project on one of the facility’s two runways.

Leesburg International Airport has received two grants that will largely pay for the design work on a project that will rehabilitate Runway 13/31, which is 6,300 feet long and 100 feet wide.

The grants total $259,210 and will fund 98 percent of the design work on Runway 13/31, which is the longest runway at the facility at 6,300 feet long and 100 feet wide.

The largest grant – $238,050 – is coming from the Federal Aviation Administration. A second grant totaling $21,160 has been awarded by the Florida Department of Transportation. The remaining $5,290 needed to pay for the design work is available in the current airport capital projects budget.

The Dassault Falcon 900 belonging to The Villages sits in its hangar at Leesburg International Airport recently. Late Villages Developer H. Gary Morse turned a lot of heads in 1998 when it was announced that he was building the largest hangar ever constructed at the then-Leesburg Regional Airport.

On Monday night, Leesburg commissioners blessed the plan to accept the grants and move forward with the design project. Hoyle, Tanner & Associates of Hernando has been contracted to do the work.

The project will rehabilitate the existing Runway 13-31 pavement, including shoulders to include runway edge lines, centerlines, threshold markings, touchdown markings, taxiway lead-in lines, Medium Intensity Runway Lights, signage, and lighting.

Many different types of aircraft use Runway 13/31. Corporate jets owned by The Villages frequently fly in and out of the airport. The late Villages Developer H. Gary Morse made history at the facility in late 1998 when it was announced that he was planning to build the largest hangar in the history of the airport. And the company still houses several airplanes at the aviation facility today, including a Dassault Falcon 900 that has been seen by many area residents as it frequently flies over The Villages and surrounding communities.

In February, the runway played host to three World War II-era aircraft, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator and a North American P-51 Mustang. Those airplanes were at the airport as part of the Wings of Freedom Tour that drew a large crowd, including many veterans, to the facility.

The Collings Foundation’s B-24 Liberator, ‘Witchcraft,’ taxis into place from Runway 13/31 for a February show at Leesburg International as part of the Wings of Freedom Tour.