At times, it’s a very quiet place, appearing deserted. But, for the 12-month period that ended May 18 of this year, Cambridge-Dorchester Regional Airport on Bucktown Road had 24,594 aircraft operations, an average of 67 per day. The mission of the county-owned, public-use complex is “to serve the air transportation and service needs of Dorchester County and the regional area by safely providing, operating, promoting, developing, and maintaining modern and efficient facilities and amenities for the traveling public.”
However, don’t compare it to BWI or Dulles, because the emphasis here is not on large-scale passenger travel.
“It’s really kind of a mix as far as the operations here,” said Director Steve Nuwer.
The airport covers a wide range of private and commercial uses, but the majority is general aviation, with five percent being military. 43 aircraft call this place home base, including crop dusters and jets. The local flight instructor handles training. Helicopters conduct practice on the grounds, and there are charter flights.
“We don’t have any commercial aviation transport operations out of the airport,” said Nuwer, “so we don’t have any charter operations that are based here, but they do fly in here on occasion.”
Some of those occasions include tourist visits to the Hyatt or even just attendance at the Ironman competition. It’s a long way from when airmail flights began on the grassy field back in 1936.
“There wasn’t a lot of commercial aviation back then,” said Nuwer. “Commercial aviation didn’t really start to pick up at least in this area until the fifties.”
In fact, the first paved runway here was laid around 1950. At some point (the records are vague), the city of Cambridge assumed ownership of the field, but eventually the county took over, and it has remained in Dorchester’s keeping ever since.
Nuwer did his original flight training at this airport in 1979. It was a family tradition to get up in the sky: his father did air shows in the seventies, and his brother flies for the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Nuwer retired from corporate sales and marketing four years ago to work for the airport.
Cambridge-Dorchester Regional has a five-year plan with the Federal Aviation Administration, a rolling plan that is updated every year. They have an eye toward further development of the 350 acres of property; space has already been set aside for building new hangars. Other projects are farther off, such as extending the 4,476-foot runway to the south, which would require moving the railroad and Cordtown Road. The next big endeavor will be resurfacing the existing runway, which the FAA considers to be at the end of its life. Fortunately, the airport just received $52,538 in federal funding for infrastructure improvements.
More recently, the focus was on completing a fence along the road.
“It’s a wildlife fence, because we have a lot of deer in this area and deer can be very, very problematic to aircraft,” explained Nuwer. “So, we’re trying to make it safer.”
They also hope to get a new restaurant into the space formerly occupied by the popular Katie’s at the Airport, which was forced by the County Council to close in January. An eating establishment would be a boon for a place that will inevitably get busier as time goes by.
“General aviation is continuing to grow,” said Nuwer. “Countrywide, there is a shortage of pilots. There’s a shortage of licensed aviation mechanics. There’s a lot of commercial opportunities in aviation. The one thing that this airport has to offer is there’s lots of room to grow. A lot of airports are really constrained. Neighborhoods are growing up around and things like that, and they just don’t have the ability to grow anymore. We’ve got plenty of land.”