Dec 18, 2013 10:53 PM by Erin Steuber
Lafayette Regional Airport is closing the book on a piece of history. The Paul Fournet Air Service hangar will soon be demolished to make way for a new terminal. It's served an important role in the airport's history, providing services from fueling to flying lessons and aircraft rental.
After 61 years, the Paul Fournet name is still visible on the decaying hangar. Originally built in 1942, the hangar was used a training facility for the Army Air Corps.
"It was used until after World War II and then it was donated by the government to Lafayette Parish for use as a general aviation airport," said friend and former employee Tommy Rogers.
Fournet was a pilot during World War II and soon after his return, Paul Fournet Air Services was established in 1952. A year later, he started a flight school, training hundreds of pilots, several of which still fly today.
"When you have pilots in general aviation, or corporate pilots, talk about Lafayette, they talk about Paul Fournet Air Service," said Airport Commissioner Tim Skinner.
The hangar, bearing his name, was a witness to history even playing host to presidents and Air Force One. But it wasn't just Paul who played a major part in aviation history, his brother Tom ran all of the flight operations for PFAS.
"In 1980, before the oil patch collapsed, we had 135 employees. You'd have a straight line of about 30 amphibian pontoon aircrafts going to make their calls on the oil rigs in South Louisiana. It was a busy place. A very busy place," said Rogers.
Now it's a much different story, as Skinner and Rogers, and employee of 61 years, stand in the deserted hangar for the last time. It's fate is to be demolished to make way for a brand new terminal.
"This airport was built around Paul Fournet Air Service. The history is phenomenal. The people that have come through this place, the people that have learned to fly. The aviation community is nationwide, not just Lafayette and it's literally going to touch people around this nation," said Skinner.
Demolition of the hangar is tentatively set for December 31st. The new terminal is still early in the planning stages and it is unclear when that construction is set to start.