The Navy gave Alan Klapmeier and Kestrel Aircraft a Christmas gift late last week when it opened a runway at the soon-to-be-former NAS Brunswick in Maine to allow the prototype Kestrel single-engine turboprop to land. It was the first arrival at the base in almost a year. Kestrel is leasing 93,000 square feet of a cavernous hangar built for the Navy and will shortly begin work on a new prototype. Kestrel intends to spend about $100 million getting the revamped Kestrel into production and about 300 people will be employed when the facility is in full operation.
The base will be fully closed in May and all the facilities will revert to civilian use. The hangar taken over by Kestrel is a state-of-the-art facility and local officials are happy to see it being put to use. "Flying the Kestrel onto the runways at the future Brunswick Executive Airport was exhilarating," said Steve Levesque, Executive Director of Maine's Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority. "This is a beautiful plane, and I am thrilled that it was the first aircraft to land since the Navy closed the airfield in January." Klapmeier told local media that before work begins there's a mountain of paperwork to plow through concerning financing the project. Over the next six months, about 50 engineers and designers will be hired to build the new prototype of the aircraft, which has been dubbed the JP10.