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Full service operator lands at airport

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Pilots using New Richmond Regional Airport are getting better service these days.

Strand Air Service, Inc. is now operating out of the airport's new terminal and fixed base operator building. The facility is situated among the new hangars on the northern edge of the airport grounds.

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John Strand comes to New Richmond after several decades of airplane maintenance and fixed base operator experience. Strand and his wife, Cathy, are the two full-time staff of the business. Two part-time mechanics help out occasionally with some of the repair jobs.

Strand began his aeronautics career at Colorado Aero Tech where he learned his skills as a mechanic. He then worked for Petroleum Helicopters in Louisiana before deciding to return to the Midwest.

He worked for five years as director of maintenance at Bemidji Airlines for five years, before accepting a job with Exxon Corporation providing air support in Chad, Africa.

After a military coup there, Strand returned to Bemidji and worked there from 1991-94.

He went out on his own in 1995 as the fixed base operator in Mora, Minn. At the time, there were only 25 airplanes housed at the small airport, yet the city wanted full service for the facility.

"There was nothing to support the demand by the city," he said.

In 1998, Strand took a position with Modern Aero at Flying Cloud Airport. He eventually hooked up with AB Flight Services at Flying Cloud, a company that also operated charters out of New Richmond.

When he found out that the local airport was looking for a full-time FBO, Strand jumped at the chance.

"I figured this was the place to re-establish my FBO," he said, "and here I am. The airport has had phenomenal growth. The airport really needed something like this and I decided to try and provide it."

Since 2001, the airport has grown from about 60 aircraft to 146 airplanes based here. Hangar space has multiplied and more landings/take-off are occurring daily.

To meet the growing demand, Strand Air Services offers everything from fuel to mechanics services to storage space rental to flight instruction.

The FBO will also coordinate meals and rental cars for people using the New Richmond airport.

"Whatever you need, we'll provide it for you," he said. "It's like the old fashioned service station for cars, only it's for airplanes."

Not only is the service provided at the airport first rate, the facilities are also top notch.

The new terminal building provides comfortable pilot and passenger lounges, nice bathrooms, a meeting room, lunch room and a pilot snooze room.

"When you're working with businesses and corporations, they really want a nice place to meet," Cathy Strand said. "It doesn't have to be super fancy, but it has to be professional."

The terminal is open 24 hours a day to serve planes landing here. Strand Air Services is currently open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

The hope is to be available for fueling or other services via a simple phone call 24 hours a day.

"We're working on those logistics right now," John Strand said.

Strand said word about the New Richmond facility is getting out to businesses and pilots.

He hopes this weekend's air show and open house, which includes a hangar dance on Saturday night and two pancake breakfasts, will help spread the word about all New Richmond has to offer.

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