Set to open this month in the Dallas suburb of DeSoto, Texas, is the nation’s newest helicopter facility, DeSoto Heliport, located in the Eagle Business & Industrial Park.
The $5 million, 19-acre facility is jointly owned by the Texas Department of Transportation, the City of DeSoto and the DeSoto Economic Development Corporation. Sky Helicopters, which also operates the FBO at the Garland/DFW heliport approximately 30 miles away, was awarded a 60-year lease to manage the facility and the company spent approximately 70 percent of the cost of the heliport in building the terminal, hangars and ramp.
Construction began last March and the facility includes more than an acre of concrete ramp and is compliant with all current regulations regarding heliport construction and TSA security. The 25,000 sq ft of heated hangar space consists of a 10,000-sq-ft hangar, which is sub-divideable in terms of separate hangar and personnel access doors, and a 15,000-sq-ft community hangar attached to the 12,000-sq-ft terminal/office complex.
The FBO has a staff of six and is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with Sunday hours to be determined by demand. Among its amenities are passenger and pilot lounges, a coffee bar/Internet café, three a/v-equipped conference rooms and 10 offices. A private keypad entrance will allow tenants after-hours access to the lounges and restrooms. Independent in terms of fuel brand, the facility will offer jet-A and avgas 24 hours a day from a pair of 12,000-gallon self-serve fuel tanks.
Sky Helicopters is a dealer for Robinson Helicopters and will use the new facility as another store-front to conduct sales operations and is working to expand its Garland Part 145 maintenance certificate to cover the new location. Sky Helicopters president Ken Pyatt said his company will operate its Part 141 flight school to provide ab initio and recurrent training at DeSoto, along with its existing contract flying for three of the four news network news organizations in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and for oil and gas surveys. According to Pyatt, the continued growth of the DFW area played a role in the establishment of the new facility. “That part of town isn’t served at all with heliport traffic; this new place is going to be on the southwest part of it, which puts us between downtown Fort Worth and downtown Dallas,” he told AIN. “We saw it as having excellent road access for customers that might not necessarily venture to the east side of Dallas.” Pyatt, who has been a helicopter pilot for more than three decades, said he was impressed by the enthusiasm of the city of DeSoto, which approached his company with the idea for the new heliport. “They clearly recognize the long term benefits of an aviation facility,” he noted.