Jet Traffic Grows at Laconia Airport

09-22 jet in the sun

Private jets like this one are an increasingly common sight at the Laconia Airport. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)



LACONIA — Since 2009, the number of jet aircraft flying in and out of Laconia Airport has risen every year, and with 1,004 flights tallied through August, volume this year is sure to top the high of 1,374 flights recorded last year.
Lee Avery of Sky Bright, one of two fixed-base operators, or FBOs, providing aeronautical services at the airport, who counts arrivals, said that jet flights numbered 944 in 2009, 1,038 in 2010, 1,113 in 2011, 1,144 in 2012, 1,176 in 2013, 1,184 in 2014 before climbing to 1,374 last year.
“The traffic has surpassed all expectations,” he said, adding that the increase in sales of jet fuel has outpaced the growth of jet traffic.
Marv Everson, who manages the airport, traced the increasing traffic to the ongoing recovery of the economy and low cost of fuel. He said business executives and seasonal residents account for the largest share of those traveling to the Lakes Region by either corporate, private or chartered jets.
“With the swing in the economy,” he remarked, “they seem more willing to spend the money.”
Avery agreed, saying that “the total inconvenience of the commercial airlines” has led companies to turn to corporate and charter jets. “They can take five or six of their people to three or four locations in one day on a small or medium sized plane for something between $5,000 and $7,000.”
Dave Emerson of Emerson Aviation, the other fixed-base operator who operates a charter service, said his business has grown as firms seek to increase efficiency without relying on commercial airlines.
“They’re loosening up their wallets,” he said.
Emerson also noted that while traffic is heaviest between the Fourth of July and Labor Day, off-season is increasing, with the private schools in the region — New Hampton School, Brewster Academy, Tilton School and Holderness School — representing a significant share of it. He said parents fly private jets to ferry their children to and from school as well to visit them during the year.
Both Emerson and Avery pointed to seasonal homeowners, some with their own airplanes, as another sure of the increasing traffic. Emerson said that the NASCAR teams, which once had a strong presence at the airport, have begun flying larger planes, which require the security and emergency services only Manchester can provide.
Likewise, both the fixed-base operators believe the jet traffic is sufficient to warrant construction of heated hangars large enough to accommodate jet aircraft. Emerson that the de-icing process applies chemicals that must be captured and reclaimed by a closed system, the cost of which would not be justified by the volume of winter traffic. But, he explained a plane freed of ice in a heated hangar overnight would be able to fly the next day. A 12,000-square-foot hangar, with a door 28 feet high and 100 feet wide, is required for planes with tails 27 feet tall and wingspans of 90 feet.
“I have three planes waiting for the space right now,” Emerson said, “and we’re starting to see more call for it.”
Emerson welcomed the rising volume of jet traffic and reminded those leery of the noise that “These newer planes are whisper quiet and will get out here like homesick angels.”

09-22 jet nose

More than 1,300 jets arrived at the Laconia Airport last year. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

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Alleged speeder faces more charges

GILFORD — Police will be filing misdemeanor charges against the woman whose attempts to evade police Sunday night took her through three communities landed her in jail.

Chief Anthony Bean Burpee said during the time Sherry Giddis, 48, of Gilmanton drove through Gilford she avoided the police by allegedly driving through and damaging some of the outer fields at Gilford High School. He said she also allegedly damaged a driveway on School House Hill Road.

Bean Burpee said Gilford will go forward with a reckless operation charge, a charge of disobeying a police officer, and a criminal mischief charge.

Giddis allegedly ran out on her tab at the Lakes Region Casino around 11 p.m. Sunday and drove at high rates of speed through Belmont into Laconia, through Gilford and back to Laconia where she was apprehended by Laconia Police while in the drive through window line at McDonald's restaurant.

Giddis is being held on $10,000 cash only bail and as of Wednesday remained in the Belknap County Jail.

 – Gail Ober

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Laconia kidnapper gets 2 to 4 years


LACONIA — A city man who forced a married couple to accompany him through the city at gunpoint and then tried to get the male victim to rob a store pleaded guilty in Belknap County Superior Court Wednesday to two counts of kidnapping and one count of criminal threatening.

08-25 David Bickford

David Bickford, 22, formerly of Union Avenue, was sentenced to serve 2 to 4 years in the New Hampshire State Prison for kidnapping the man.

Bickford was also sentenced to 3 ½ to 7 years, all suspended, for criminally threatening the man, and to 3 ½ to 7 years, all suspended, for kidnapping the woman. Should Bickford not be of good behavior, the state can impose the full suspended sentences, which total to a minimum and maximum of 7 to 14 years more than the 2 to 4 years he agreed to serve.

When asked by Judge James O'Neill, Belknap County Deputy Attorney General Carley Ahern said that police never recovered the gun that was used by Bickford during the events of Aug. 25. She said the police had no statement as to the sentence and that the two victims didn't provide any input as to sentencing.

She said they searched the car in which Bickford was found but there was no gun. She said police looked all over the area and searched the Winnipesaukee River near the Laconia Spa convenience store but still never found it.

Ahern said the couple was at the library at 10:45 p.m. and were waiting for someone who was going to buy a bicycle from them. They were holding a charging cord that belonged to Bickford for safe keeping but when Bickford returned they said he demanded his backpack. They told police there never was a backpack.

She said Bickford pulled out a silver handgun and ordered the two to walk along the WOW Trail so that he could force the male victim to rob the Circle K.

At some point he released the woman, who went to her home and called the police. Bickford and the male victim went to the Laconia Spa and Bickford told him to go in and get some drinks for him and his friends. The male victim told the clerk to call the police.

Bickford was picked up by his friends but police stopped the car almost immediately after he got in and took him into custody.

In court Wednesday, Bickford's attorney said she thought the resolution is fair because it made it through the system in less than a month.

Bickford has previous convictions for robbery and theft and has already served two years in state prison for a probation violation.

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