Anyone who has ever visited southeastern North Carolina knows just how special it is.
Written and Photographed By: Tammy Pope
Located between the bustling cities of Wilmington and Myrtle Beach, this quaint beach town of Southport is filled with southern charm and picture-perfect ocean views. This is exactly the experience which the Cape Fear Regional Jetport’s new Senator Bill Rabon West-Side Terminal Building has captured.
Inspired by the sandy beaches and laid-back vibe of Southport, Oak Island and Bald Head Island, the building blurs the lines between a beach cottage and a jetport terminal. “We’ve got 60 miles of beaches, 39 golf courses, and we’re considered to have the best weather in the state,” boasts jetport director Howie Franklin; so it is no surprise that the jetport’s location is a beach bum’s dream come true.
From the moment you walk through the terminal’s welcoming antebellum banisters, you are immersed in the low-country charm that southeastern North Carolina embodies. “Our goal, when designing the terminal was to make it memorable, welcoming, elegant and most importantly, comfortable,” Franklin says.
Nautical touches are carried throughout the building, from the oyster shell exterior to the paintings of drapes blowing in the breeze. Ship-wheel clocks, dwarf palm trees and throw pillows showcasing marine animals only add to the seaside-inspired spirit of the space.
In addition to the coastal theme to which the terminal caters, it also provides a V.I.P. experience for the passengers and flight crews visiting the airport. “Everyone, regardless of their status, is considered a V.I.P.,” Franklin explains.
He adds the visitors who fly in and out of the jetport range from “the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker,” and this diversified clientele certainly does not hinder the terminal’s staff from treating everyone with first-class style.
Franklin’s experience as an Air Force One steward working alongside flight crews, ground transportation people and passengers, lends to his understanding of what they desire. The terminal has a luxurious pilot’s lounge which was designed specifically for pilots and their needs. It’s equipped with first-class airline chairs that recline and are capable of charging all of their electronic devices. The terminal also has a pilot’s planning room which has been converted into a sleeping room. This space provides the pilots with a dark and quiet room to sleep.
The V.I.P. experience continues even for those who have extended ground time. The terminal’s staff offers complimentary golf clubs and tee times. There are also plans to set up an exercise room equipped with showers not only for flight crews but also the airport staff. “We’re in the customer service business,” Franklin reminds us. “Anything we can do to improve our service to our customers, we will do.”
Despite all this, one note Franklin wishes to emphasize is, “We’re just getting started.” He explains that they have big plans for the terminal and the staff intends to continue offering great service to which they have received such exceptional feedback.