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Photo firm locating at airport

June 26, 1997

By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Staff Writer

A high-tech aerial photography firm has signed a 10-year lease to use the new $1 million, 21,666-square-foot shell building at Washington County Regional Airport.

The firm, Aero-Contractors, photographs large areas from the air for topographical maps and other uses. The company employs seven people but plans to double in size by next year.

"The airport is ideal for a company like ours," said Aero-Contractor's General Manager Mike Rusenko. "The facility is well-maintained, well-located and is an attractive option to the big city airports."

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The lease, which starts at $3.30 per square foot, will pay for principal and interest on the state loan to build the speculative shell building and airport maintenance costs, said Airport Manager Carolyn Motz.

Aero-Contractors is an affiliate of Photo Science Inc. of Gaithersburg, Md.

Aero-Contractors has two planes outfitted for photography and plans to buy a third, said company spokeswoman Brenda Cole.

Cole said the company can provide thermal imaging and other cutting-edge processes.

"We do things that no one else in the world is doing," she said.

The company hopes to move to digital photography, she said.

Cole said a lot of the company's work involves keeping track of environmental conditions, from changing coastlines to the number of trees in a forest.

Another company, AN Air, also has been added to the airport. AN Air provides non-destructive testing to airplane structural companents and engines.

Larry Antonellis and his son, Mike, own the company and test using ultrasonic, X-ray and other high-tech methods. "It's like your usual checkup. We search for hidden defects before they become a hazard to the safety of the aircraft," Antonellis said.

Airport Operations Coordinator Brandon Taksa said more shell buildings are planned when funding becomes available. Taksa said the jobs created by the airport are especially good for the area because they bring in money from outside the county.

Aero-Contractor's web page is at (http://members.aol.com/aerocntrct/index.html).

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