Airport prospects looking up
A Naples businessman who offers scenic sea flights from his Long Lake base, has expanded into Bethel Regional Airport where he is currently offering aircraft maintenance, including Federal Aviation Administration-required annual safety inspections.
Peter Marucci of Samnik Enterprises LLC, which is doing business as Mast Cove Seaplane Base, has moved into Hangar No. 2.
Town and Bethel Airport Manager Jim Doar said Wednesday that Marucci moved in late last month.
“It's pretty cool that we've got somebody like that out there,” Doar said. “He's not stationed there all the time, but rather, it's by appointment, and if you happen to catch him there, he'll work on your plane.”
Doar said Mast Cove has “an excellent reputation as a company that does quality work, and we are pleased to be able to offer this service to our patrons.”
“It's just one more service we can add to the airport,” he said. “We've never had anything like that.”
Depending on how the market develops, Doar said Marucci may offer scenic flights from Bethel.
Marucci said Wednesday afternoon that he needs to check the Androscoggin River in the area to determine if he can take off and land his seaplane on it, before offering scenic flights from Bethel. But, regardless, they will still be offered from his Naples business.
An airline mechanic who was laid off in December 2008, Marucci said Wednesday that he expanded into Bethel because he enjoys working on aircraft.
After being let go, Marucci said he established the seaplane business at the family campground in Naples, but missed working on aircraft. It's something he said he's done for 25 years, though mostly on jets and airliners.
Looking around for an airport from which to work out of, Marucci said he was pleased to expand to Bethel.
“They've been very nice to me,” he said. “I don't think it's going to be a moneymaker, but we're going to try and make a go of it. This is more of what I call 'me' time.”
In other Bethel airport news, Doar said that he and the Bethel Airport Authority are beginning to wrap up a master plan for the airport. A final draft should be ready by the end of May. A public presentation about the plan will follow.
“What's really exciting is that the (Federal Aviation Administration)is going to allow us to do a non-precision GPS approach, which is going to be engineered and surveyed, and will probably take us a year or 18 months to get done,” he said.
Currently, planes can only land at Bethel airport under visual flight rules.
“There's no instrumentation approach. If you can't see the airport from three miles out, then you can't land at the airport,” Doar said. “It really has to be a beautiful day to land or take off from the airport, so this is a pretty cool thing for us, and we're pretty excited about it.”
Being able to offer pilots instrument approach should increase the number of planes and small jets using the airport, Doar said.
The airport has a 3,818-foot-long runway, which he said “will accommodate an awful lot of airplanes.”
But, if it was expanded to 4,000 feet, business, in turn, would increase.
“Unfortunately, for us, insurance companies like 4,000 feet, which is kind of the magic number, so even though a plane could technically land on 3,800 feet, if they did, and something went wrong, the insurance wouldn't cover it, because the insurance says you don't land on anything under 4,000 feet,” he said. “It's not like we could land a 747, but at 4,000 feet, we could get even more business than we are currently.
“That and an instrument approach — of course, upgrades would have to come like lights and other things — is pretty cool,” Doar said.
Marucci may be contacted at 693-6142, 693-6652, or by cell at 329-4771.