General aviation at the Conway Airport is another area in which the Horry County Department of Airports has missed the boat.
The county’s three general aviation airports, Conway, North Myrtle Beach and Loris, were a topic of specific discussion at Horry County Council’s budget retreat last spring because of the continuing deficit they generate.
Conway airport is an interesting study in what is wrong with general aviation in Horry County.
The North American Institute of Aviation relocated from Hammonton, NJ to Conway in 1978 in the same time period that Horry County government was instituting the recently passed home rule for county government.
For the next 20 years, Horry County government didn’t have worries about the Conway airport as the school thrived through close connections with the Scandinavian countries of Europe. The school paid rent to the county for the facilities it used and also was the Fixed Base Operator for Conway airport, although sources say the FBO was run to basically support the school.
In the late 1990’s NAIA enrollment began to decline because of a saturation point being reached in the number of Scandinavian pilots and new European Union laws that did not automatically accept U.S. Federal Aviation Administration certification of the pilots that trained here.