Sussex County unveils new Delaware Coastal Airport name, logo

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GEORGETOWN – A new name and look are about to take flight for Sussex County’s gateway to the sky.

County Council Tuesday morning endorsed a plan to rename the Sussex County Airport to Delaware Coastal Airport, the latest step in a more-than-decade-long, nearly $40 million effort to modernize the facility and boost economic development. That has included extending the main runway, leasing new hangar space, and marketing the airport as an attractive destination for professionals and tourists alike who visit Sussex to work and play.

The name change, which requires notification to the Federal Aviation Administration, should be formalized by the end of the summer.

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Sussex County Airport Manager Jim Hickin listens to a presentation on re-naming the airport facility Delaware Coastal Airport.

Once official, signage and marketing materials will be adorned with the new Delaware Coastal Airport name and logo – an airplane that evokes the likeness of a fish sweeping across sunset and surf.

“Delaware Coastal Airport is a new name for what is, in many ways, becoming a renewed, modernized transportation hub here in Sussex County,” County Administrator Todd F. Lawson said. “We believe this new name better reflects what and where we are; it clearly puts us in the mid-Atlantic region, and we are confident the Delaware Coastal Airport brand will help draw more business, more visitors, and further drive economic development in Sussex County.”

The new Delaware Coastal Airport name and logo draw on the county’s proximity to prized, five-star-rated beaches, which attract millions of visitors each year.

Mr. Lawson noted that the former Sussex County Airport moniker, while mostly recognized within the county, did not carry a sufficient ‘sense of place’ outside the county or Delaware.

A consultant’s report in 2013 recommended a name change for the airport, saying such a move would better position the airport within the region to make it more marketable and recognized within the flying community.

The new brand and logo were developed, with input from County staff, by Milford resident Ben Muldrow of Greenville, S.C.-based Arnett Muldrow & Associates.

The name and logo have received endorsements not just from County Council, but from the County’s Airport Advisory Committee, local pilots, and community business leaders, as well.

“For years, the airport has had a bit of an identity crisis,” Mr. Lawson said. “To some, it’s the Sussex County Airport, others call it the Georgetown Airport, but those names don’t make clear where Sussex County is and what the area has to offer. Delaware Coastal Airport does that.”

Mr. Lawson recounted a humorous case of mistaken identity in recent years when a pilot landed at the airport, thinking the location was another Sussex County – in neighboring New Jersey.

The airport, built in the 1940s and utilized at one point by the U.S. Navy, is a general aviation facility popular with pilots of small aircraft and corporate jets, recording some 35,000 landings and takeoffs annually. For more than a decade, the County has made a host of improvements at the airport, from new tie-down aprons and state-of-the-art lighting to a new crosswind runway and extended main runway. The latter project – extending the main runway from 5,000 to 6,000 feet – would accommodate larger aircraft, including Boeing 757s, which would fly into the airport for conversion work at manufacturer PATS Aircraft Systems in the adjacent Sussex County Industrial Park. The first of two 500-foot extension phases is already complete.

County Council President Michael H. Vincent, R-Seaford, applauded County staff and the brand consultant for their work on the project, saying he looks forward to the brand helping to land new opportunities and introduce visitors to a 21st century airport and community.

“As they say, the sky’s the limit, and we’re certainly looking to Delaware Coastal Airport to help put Sussex County on the map,” Mr. Vincent said.

County Councilman Sam Wilson, R-Georgetown, opposed the name change, challenging that need in light of information that indicated the airport is booming with business.

“If these things are doing so good, why in the world are we going to change the name?” said Mr. Wilson. “It has been Georgetown Airport since 1943. People I see, they can’t imagine why we want to change the name. So I think it is a poor excuse to change.”

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