Leesburg has been selected by the Federal Aviation Administration over 20 other applicants as the site of a new regional facility to provide noncommercial aircraft with weather information and flight plan coordination.
Leesburg's Municipal Airport, site of the proposed regional flight service station, was selected over Manassas Municipal Airport and other Virginia Facilities, as well as several in Maryland and Delaware.
"When we heard the news [of the selection] last week, everyone was ecstatic," Leesburg Mayor Robert E. Sevila, said. ". . . We didn't expect to win because there were so many other airports competing."
Under a contract, Leesburg will build a $980,000 facility for the station with money raised by a general obligation bond and then lease the building to the FAA for 20 years at a rate that will gradually pay off the bond.
The FAA will close five local flight centers to consolidate its activities in the new Leesburg regional station, said Gene Orlando, FAA manager for real property in the eastern region.
One of the local centers is at the FAA facility for coordinating commercial flights, located just east of Leesburg on Rte. 7. The others to be closed are in Danville, Roanoke and Newport News in Virginia and in Salisbury, Md.
If Leesburg had not won the award to build the regional center, the 80 employes at the local center near Leesburg would have been relocated, but Orlando said the FAA plans to transfer them to the new facilitiy when it opens in late 1984.
While Leesburg will not make any money from building the facility, assistant town manager Jeffrey Minor said the flight station will bring many benefits to the town, including more activity at Municipal Airport.
"Pilots like to be where the flight service centers are," he said. "We expect to see airplane sales go up, along with fuel sales and other services."
Construction of the 12,000-square-foot facility also will bring public sewer lines to the airport, a service that Minor said is desperately needed. The Town Council also is considering building a new terminal as part of the administration building for the flight center.
Minor said the council is expected to decide on funding for construction, of a terminal within a few weeks.