MISSION READY: Members of the 143rd Airborne Infantry Company and the 56th Troop Command, Rhode Island Army National Guard, prepare for a combat training jump out of a C-130J Super Hercules.
COURTESY MASTER SERGEANT JANEEN MILLER
CATCHING A RIDE: A corporate aircraft being towed by line service at Quonset State Airport in North Kingstown.
COURTESY AVPORTS/RICK LAMPORT
By Harold Ambler
Protruding a mile into Narragansett Bay, North Kingstown’s Quonset State Airport has a decidedly lower profile than the state’s main airport, Warwick’s T.F. Green Airport.
Yet Quonset State, home to the 143rd Airlift Wing of the Rhode Island Air National Guard, the 126th Aviation Regiment of the Rhode Island Army National Guard and a general-aviation facility, is a key part of the local economy due largely to the Guard’s presence. And despite that low profile, or perhaps because of it, Quonset State is the airport of choice for many corporate executives in the region.
“An aircraft that comes onto the ramp here can be serviced by an automobile, there’s no need to deal with the [Transportation Security Administration] as you have at an airport like T.F. Green,” said Dave Lucas, who manages the Providence Jet Center – Quonset, as well as the airport itself, speaking to the airport’s attractions to corporate fliers. “It’s really more of a family-type facility. Anyone who uses the airport regularly becomes part of our family.”
Lucas’ employer is AvPORT, which runs Quonset State, including servicing both jet and propeller-planes’ various needs, on behalf of Rhode Island Airport Corporation.
In 2009, Quonset State opened a new terminal-and-hangar facility, constructed in part to grow its cargo business and attract more travelers. The cargo growth never happened because T.F. Green is a better option for that, said RIAC President and CEO Kelly Fredericks. But Quonset State’s improved facilities are appreciated by corporate travelers, he said.
Although Lucas confirmed the airport’s popularity with corporate executives in a series of interviews with Providence Business News, he declined to provide details on companies or individuals, citing a need to protect their privacy.
Chuck O’Koomian’s A Airline Express Limousine and Car Service, located in North Kingstown, regularly brings executives to and from the airport. He has witnessed the effort to protect the privacy of corporate clients.
“Ninety percent of my drivers are all former military,” O’Koomian said. “We can follow directions. We pick up people there, our windows are tinted black, nobody knows who it is. That’s why they choose us. They have security-tinted windows, nobody can see anybody. That’s how they get their security. There [are] flights that come in all the time.