Merrill Field hangar offers pilots 'really first class' services

PHOTO/Rob Stapleton/AJOC
A new hangar, fuel and pilot convenience center at Merrill Field has all the comforts of home.

"It’s not uncommon to look into a hangar and see all the Alaska toys," said Richard "Dick" Armstrong, developer and president of the ACE Hangars Owners Association, "and some pretty expensive airplanes too."

Armstrong is describing his $3 million fixed base operation at Merrill Field called ACE Hangars. ACE offers fuel, hangars, hotel rooms, a pilot lounge and retail space -- all right in the center of the airport.

"This is great for airplane owners or visiting pilots who are bringing their aircraft into Anchorage for maintenance, or if they are from Outside and have flown up the Alaska Highway it’s a great place to base from," Armstrong said.

"We have added pilot information on each telephone speed dial so the pilot will get Merrill Field Automated Weather Observation Systems, or Automated Terminal Information Service transmissions over the phone," Armstrong said.

"Each phone speaker becomes a scanner monitoring Merrill Tower, ground and approach frequencies after pressing the number one. The rooms and lounge also have computers with Internet access and cable television," he said. "This is the signature flight service of general aviation."

transportation.jpg Perhaps the most unusual aspect of the hangar is the four hotel rooms, located over the pilot lounge and meeting areas on the south side of the hangar.

Decorated in an aviation theme, the rooms come complete with airline seats from the Russian Ilyushin IL-62 that was clipped by a Boeing 747-400 several years ago at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and scrapped.

Rooms have both winter and summer rates and are typically less than local hotel rooms and offer on airport convenience.

ACE hosts 17 hangars; 15 have been purchased since the facility’s opening last December. Fuel customers, hotel customers and ACE Pilot Club members have access to a pilot lounge with fax, computer, telephone and vending machines. Public space is monitored by camera surveillance, with a security access code required to enter the pilot lounge and hangar access areas.

"I am very excited and pleased with my hangar. This is really first class," said dentist Jerome List. "I had put money down on a another hangar, heard about these, found out there was one available and purchased this hangar."

List, who moved into his T-hangar in November, compliments the lighting and quality construction but most of all likes the hangar as a home for his new Aviat Husky on amphibian floats.

The hangars range from 40- foot-wide T-hangars, to a 56-foot rectangular hangar; rents begin at $65 a day. Hourly and weekly rates are also available, along with tie-downs that come with and without electricity.

Polished floors, high spectrum lighting and a fire sprinkler system that exceeds local standards are normal fare in each hangar.

"We were really happy to see Dick get involved with the development of that facility. He really put together an executive hangar facility with all the amenities," said Dave Lundeby, airport manager at Merrill Field.

"This really makes us happy to see the airport take on a new, redeveloped look," he said. "We looked at Merrill field several years ago and recognized that some changes needed to be made."

In addition to the hangars and lounge, ACE also has a 24- hour credit card fueling system, which offers a 15 cent discount on aviation and jet fuel to members of the ACE Pilots Club or the Alaska Airmen’s Association. It also includes 24-hour access to the pilot lounge.

Armstrong is also a partner in Alaska Husky LLC, which has the Aviat Husky dealership in the complex. There is also retail space for lease or sale at the complex.

"We even have a vending machine for aviation engine oil, perhaps the first in Alaska," Armstrong said.

Merrill Field operates as a utility under the Municipality of Anchorage and, according to airport officials, has had the support of the Anchorage Assembly and mayor to make improvements and to work with lease holders to invest in their hangars and buildings.

"Dick really cleaned up that corner, since the old buildings there were over 35 years old," Lundeby said.

"We looked at the old buildings and said, ’let’s just take a wrecking ball to this and create a first class facility,’ " Armstrong said.

04/21/2001 - 8:00pm