Hickory Regional Airport

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Hickory Regional Airport
KHKY Hickory Regional.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner City of Hickory
Serves Hickory, North Carolina
Location Hickory, NC 28601
Elevation AMSL 1,190 ft / 363 m
Coordinates 35°44′28″N 081°23′22″W / 35.74111°N 81.38944°W / 35.74111; -81.38944Coordinates: 35°44′28″N 081°23′22″W / 35.74111°N 81.38944°W / 35.74111; -81.38944
Website www.hickorync.gov
Direction Length Surface
ft m
6/24 6,400 1,951 Asphalt
1/19 4,400 1,341 Asphalt
Statistics (2013)
Aircraft operations 40,504

Hickory Regional Airport (IATA: HKY, ICAO: KHKY, FAA LID: HKY) is a public airport located three miles (5 km) west of the central business district of Hickory, a city in Catawba County, North Carolina, United States. It is owned by the City of Hickory.[1]

Facilities and aircraft[edit]

The FBO and Control Tower

Hickory Regional Airport covers an area of 739 acres (299 ha) which contains two asphalt paved runways: 6/24 measuring 6,400 x 150 ft. (1,951 x 46 m) and 1/19: 4,400 x 150 ft. (1,341 x 46 m). For the 12-month period ending July 31, 2009, the airport had 40,504 aircraft operations, an average of 111 per day: 99% general aviation and 1% military. There are also a total of 68 aircraft based on the airport.[1]

The airport has an operating control tower from 7:00am to 9:00pm daily for safety and sequencing of aircraft landing and departing. For weather information, the airport uses an automated airport weather station (ASOS).

The airport terminal building, which was built in 1960, has served as a hub for commerce and transportation for more than 40 years. However, it no longer supports airline travel as the most recent airline, Delta Connection, ceased operation from Hickory in 2005.[2][3] The building remains an active part of the airport housing airport administration and maintenance, a café, rental cars, a bus service, as well as the Hickory Aviation Museum.

In 2003, a new building was constructed to serve the general aviation community. There are several flight instructors who teach at the Hickory Regional Airport. Airplane rental is provided through various private entities. Instruction is provided both on an individual basis, where the prospective pilot is taught both the knowledge and flight training required by the instructor, and through the flight school at Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute, where the knowledge component is taught in a classroom setting. Additional pilot instruction including sport pilot training is given through an independent company on the airport that operates a Remos GX and a Cub Crafters Sport Cub aircraft.

Riverhawk Aviation (and its subsidiary companies), which was the airport's only FBO, voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. On December 8, 2011, the United States bankruptcy court, having found that Riverhawk did not have the assets to continue as a viable company, removed Riverhawk as the FBO. On December 9, 2011, the City of Hickory assumed all FBO operations in order to insure no interruption in general aviation services occurred at the airport.

On Monday, October 23, 2017, an EF2 tornado (confirmed by the National Weather Service’s Greenville/Spartanburg bureau) occurred at the airport, destroying two hangars and several privately owned planes, along with several vehicles. Winds were estimated at a maximum of 125 mph as the storm slammed the airport's north side.

Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting[edit]

The Hickory Fire Department provides aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) services to the Hickory Regional Airport. The fire department staffs an ARFF truck, known as Engine 4, with one firefighter 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.[4][5]


The current terminal building built in 1960.

The Hickory Municipal Airport was first opened to aircraft traffic on May 17, 1940. At that time, there were two unpaved runways which were 2,700 and 3,100 feet in length.

Shortly thereafter, the runway which came to be designated 6/24 was lengthened and both of the existing runways were paved. On August 2, 1941, Pennsylvania Central Airline which later became Capital Airlines, brought the first scheduled air-carrier service to Hickory. This service was interrupted by World War II, and was suspended in May, 1942. During the war years the Hickory Municipal Airport served as a Pilot Training center for the Military. In 1947, the Civil Aeronautics Administration opened the Hickory Interstate Airways Communications Station, which was housed in a wooden structure on the south side of the field, at the former FBO site. As the Flight Service Station, this operation is now housed, along with a portion of the Systems Maintenance Sector, in the modern Terminal Building. The main offices for the Systems Maintenance Sector are now located in the present FBO office building. In May, 1950, the City of Hickory contracted for the construction of a North-South Runway (runway 1/19), which is a total of 4,400 feet in length. Capital Airlines resumed scheduled service in August 1951, and continued until August 1952, at which time Piedmont Airlines began to serve Hickory. Since initial construction, runway 6/24 has been extended in length twice, to its present length of 6,402 feet. A full Instrument Landing System (ILS) was installed on runway 24, and commissioned in 1977. A MALSR Approach Lighting System was also installed on this runway.

In 1960, the base of operations for the airport was moved from the south side of the field when the new terminal building was constructed. In the mid-1960s, the Fixed-Base Operator, Cannon Aviation, Inc., also moved from the south side of the field, into new quarters adjacent to the Terminal Building. The Fixed-Base Operation was later bought by a locally formed corporation, Carolina Airways, Inc., and since that time, the FBO has changed owners several times and two substantial expansion projects have been completed.

In the early part of 1969, a new High Intensity Lighting system (HIRL) was installed on runway 6/24 as well as lighting on the parallel taxiway. A new taxiway, complete with lighting, was constructed parallel to runway 1/19. In the same improvements project, runway 6/24 was overlaid for the purpose of increasing the pavement strength and a new 36-inch Airport Beacon was installed.

In the Fall of 1973, the Federal Aviation Administration, following much planning and work, commissioned an Air Traffic Control Tower at the Hickory Airport.

Commercial airline services[edit]

While not currently served by any commercial airline, the Hickory Regional Airport has had such service for much of its history.

On August 2, 1941, Pennsylvania Central Airlines which later became Capital Airlines, brought the first scheduled air-carrier service to Hickory. This service was interrupted by World War II, and was suspended in May, 1942. Capital Airlines resumed scheduled service in August 1951, and continued until August 1952, at which time Piedmont Airlines (1948–1989) began to serve Hickory. From 1952-1980, Piedmont Airlines provided direct and non-stop service to various destinations such as Asheville (NC), Charlotte (NC), Winston-Salem (NC), Tri-Cities Area (TN) and Atlanta (GA). Aircraft varied from the Douglas DC-3, Martin 404, Fokker F27, Fairchild Hiller FH-227, and the NAMC YS-11.

After the airline deregulation of the late 1970s, the nature of commercial service would change for Hickory. Now smaller, commuter airline service would be offered to feed large hubs of aviation activity.

Atlantis Airlines (1979–1985) was one small airline of this type, offering up to six daily direct flights to Charlotte and Atlanta. The period of 1978-2002 would also see Sunbird Airlines (later CCAir) operate up to 11 daily flights using Cessna 402 and Cessna 404(s), Beechcraft Model 99 Airliners, Shorts 330 and Shorts 360 Skyvans, DeHavilland Canada Dash 8, and BAE Jetstream 32 Turboprops. These aircraft would operate under the marketing names of Sunbird Airlines, Piedmont Commuter, and finally US Airways Express. CCAir would be later acquired by Mesa Airlines who would, in the wake of the September 11th 2001 attacks, decide to suspend its daily US Airways Express commuter flights to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in April 2002.

Most recently, in 2005, Delta Connection carrier Atlantic Southeast Airlines operated Bombardier CRJ200 Regional Jets on their direct service to Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, before ceasing service in the fall of that same year.

Local officials do not believe that commercial airline service will likely return because of the close proximity to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. Nonetheless, the airport is self-sustaining and has maintained a relatively high traffic volume due to its corporate, air charter, air cargo, and itinerant general aviation activity.[6]


  1. ^ a b c FAA Airport Master Record for HKY (Form 5010 PDF), effective 2014-04-03
  2. ^ "Delta begins airline service at the Hickory Regional Airport on May 1, 2005". Press Release. City of Hickory. 2004-12-09. Archived from the original on December 21, 2005. 
  3. ^ "Delta Airlines to suspend jet service in Hickory on November 30, 2005". Press Release. City of Hickory. 2005-10-18. 
  4. ^ "Fire Stations". City of Hickory. City of Hickory. Retrieved 3 October 2017. 
  5. ^ Seng, Max. "Hickory Fire Station 4 welcomes modern rig with airport-specific design". Hickory Daily Record. Hickory Daily Record. Retrieved 3 October 2017. 
  6. ^ Gould, Richard. "Local airport a draw for business and pilots". Hickory Daily Record. Hickory Daily Record. Retrieved 3 October 2017. 

External links[edit]