Community celebrates Airport Appreciation Day, groundbreaking

ARLINGTON — The Arlington Municipal Airport was buzzing with activity May 9, as the Arlington Airport Appreciation Day coincided with the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Arlington Airport offices.

Airport Groundbreaking

The mayor and City Council members of Arlington joined members of the Arlington Airport Commission and the Washington State Department of Transportation Aviation Division in grabbing shovels and posing for photos just outside the current airport office, which city of Arlington Capital Projects Manager Paul Ellis explained will be expanded by 5,600-square-feet, for a facility with a new total of 7,300-square-feet.

Ellis noted that the construction, which is currently set to begin in early or mid-June, will cost approximately $1.2 million, and should conclude by the end of September or early October. The Seattle-based Pennon Construction has been contracted by the city to work from designs by Ryan Ellinghaus of Gary Parkinson Architects in Everett. According to Ellis, the reason construction won’t start until next month is to allow all the steel components to be fabricated before they’re needed, so that there’s no gap between the pouring of the concrete and the placing of the steel structures.

“The old building will receive a facelift,” Ellis said. “The old roof will be replaced. Just north of the old building, a center section will include lobbies for the Arlington Airport and WSDOT Aviation, with two separate receptionists. Behind the lobbies, we’ll gain an 1,100-square-foot meeting room, about the size of Hadley Hall, and an upper floor of offices and work stations. To the north of that, the rest of the new building will go to WSDOT Aviation. Our old building will get new carpeting and paint, and could be turned into a pilot lounge.”

Arlington Airport Manager Rob Putnam elaborated on the idea of establishing a 24/7 pilot lounge in the current airport office, suggesting that a combination lock on the door could be set with a code number that’s the same as the airport’s radio frequency.

“It’s a great draw for our community,” Putnam said. “It’s more convenient for the pilots, and when a WSDOT office has an Arlington address, it’s free advertising for our airport. Plus, on the financial side, we now have the state as a tenant, and you can’t beat that.”

WSDOT Aviation Division Director John Sibold expressed his excitement over seeing a year’s worth of discussions with Arlington Airport staff finally coming to fruition.

“This is a premier general aviation airport,” Sibold said. “Aviation is continuing to grow in Snohomish County, so having a facility here is a plus. We can register pilots, and our inspectors’ planes are right here. It’s also a perfectly centralized location between where most of our staff members live.”

Airport Appreciation Day

Families came from both the local area and other states to give their kids a chance to take to the skies and learn more about aviation at the Arlington Airport Appreciation Day.

Cindy Scillo looked on as Hans Sendelbach helped Randy Wren into the cockpit of a glider plane. For Sendelbach, a Bellingham resident, it was a case of the student becoming the teacher, since Sendelbach has yet to take his own first solo flight.

“I didn’t really start learning to fly until this spring,” said Sendelbach, a member of the Evergreen Soaring Club. “I’ve wanted to fly gliders since I was 8 years old, but that’s an easy dream to put off. But now, as an adult, I don’t have as many excuses. I took a demo ride here a couple of years ago and I finally decided to make the jump.”

Sendelbach explained to Wren that, on a warm day, it’s a good idea to pack water bottles and power bars in your cockpit.

“After a month and a half, I flew alongside an eagle,” Sendelbach said. “We were so close, it turned and flashed its claws at us, because it was nervous.”

As local pilot Bruce Angell took his Trinidad aircraft up, Arlington mom Melissa Smith waved to her sons, Franklin and Chance, while Oregon dad Jose Sotto did the same to his son, Tavo, since all three children were passengers on the aircraft.

“It’s a wonderful experience for these kids,” said Smith, whose family was attending their first Airport Appreciation Day. “My oldest boy has told me that he wants to join the Navy to be a pilot. Things like this are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.”

Sotto’s family was visiting relatives in Camano Island when they happened to hear about the Airport Appreciation Day.

“My son knows a lot about Cessnas and warplanes,” Sotto said. “My father-in-law is a recently retired Boeing engineer, so my son has family ties to flying. This is big fun at a nice place.”

Northwest Experimental Aircraft Association Executive Director Barb Tolbert was pleased with the day’s pleasant weather and estimated turnout of at least 50 children before noon, who were served by half a dozen area pilots.

“We’re excited that these pilots can give this gift to the kids,” Tolbert said. “They’re bearing the costs of these flights, so we appreciate their dedication.”

Click here for more photos.

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