Established in 1943, the Keene Dillant-Hopkins Airport covers approximately 1,000 acres and has two runways. The primary runway is 6,200 feet long and is equipped with an instrument landing system; the crosswind runway is 4,000 feet long. The airport operates an automated weather observation system and is equipped with precision approach path indicators. It can accommodate aircraft up to and including large commercial jets. However, because of its proximity to large commercial airports near Manchester, Boston and Hartford/Springfield, large-scale passenger service is not likely to return to the Keene airport in the next 20 years.
The primary role of the airport is to serve the general aviation, corporate, and commercial needs of Keene and southwestern New Hampshire. It plays a major role in the New Hampshire Statewide Airport System Plan as well as the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems.
Since the airport is located in the town of Swanzey, it is subject to Swanzey’s zoning regulations. The airport is currently zoned business and its surrounding areas are zoned residential, business, industrial park, special lake protection and rural/agriculture. In order to ensure the airport’s economic success into the future, coordination with Swanzey is imperative. Reviewing the existing zoning around the airport with the town of Swanzey to create a mix of nonresidential retail and aviation commercial uses may be beneficial to both municipalities.
The 2003 Airport Master Plan recommends several actions for the airport’s future developments, many of which are complete, under way, or scheduled in the current Capital Improvement Program. The airport’s role in economic development and in the overall transportation system should not be ignored. Rather, it should be enhanced through its development as a regional “Aviation Center of Excellence.” There are several strategies in need of further exploration, including providing another access route to the airport, changing public perception of the airport’s proximity to the community, pursuing an economic development strategy for sites surrounding the airport, and including it as part of a formal emergency management and preparedness plan.