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Archive for Tuesday, October 20, 1998

BUSINESS OWNER READY FOR AIRPORT PLANS TO TAKE OFF

October 20, 1998

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DreamWings L.L.C. is looking to move from one rented hangar to another at Lawrence Municipal Airport.

An aircraft company wants to pay $3,500 a month to rent a cinderblock hangar with a leaky roof, eroding walls and no systems for climate control.

Once the city fixes it.

``We're pretty excited,'' said John Hunter, president of DreamWings L.L.C., who expects his ultralight manufacturing business to take off in the soon-to-be renovated hangar. ``We've done a great deal of work, and I've taken advantage of the delays to make sure we get this thing as refined as possible. We're pretty pumped up. We've got a good crew. We're ready.''

Lawrence city commissioners will consider approving a lease agreement tonight with DreamWings for use of a city-owned community hangar. The commission meeting begins at 6:35 p.m. at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts.

Under the agreement, DreamWings would pay $3,500 in rent for the hangar, which the city already has agreed to renovate to the company's specifications. The city must secure the lease agreement, however, before hiring Harris Construction Co. Inc., 3200 Haskell, to take on the renovation work.

The $438,364 job would include installation of new steel siding, insulation, a roof, interior finishes and systems for heating, air conditioning and ventilation, said Rod Bremby, assistant city manager and airport manager. The contract also would cover construction of a 2,000-square-foot addition for office space.

Also necessary before the deal can take off: Construction of a new community hangar, to provide space for the eight airplanes displaced by Hunter's business. Commissioners already have agreed to hire Penny Construction Co. Inc. to take on that project, likely to cost $445,413.

City officials still need to negotiate a lease with Hetrick Aircraft Inc., the airport's fixed-base operator, for use of the new hangar.

That's just another in a long list of hurdles for DreamWings to overcome before it can start manufacturing in the new hangar. Once all of the lease agreements, contract deals and municipal approvals are completed, DreamWings must wait for construction on two buildings before it can relocate.

Yet, Hunter is confident his business will take off in the new location. He plans to start shipping the first of his ultralight kits in April.

``A lot of things will have to go wrong to prevent that,'' Hunter said.

DreamWings is in its second year of operations at the airport, in rented space in Kansas University's hangar. The company is developing a new series of composite ultralight aircraft, which weigh as little as 250 pounds and are able to travel at speeds up to 150 mph.

Hunter expects to make 30 kits by the end of 1999, and be up to full production, about 200 kits a year, in the community hangar within one or two years.

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is mfagan@ljworld.com.

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