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W.Va. aircraft assembly plant goes to high bidder

Journal photo by John McVey Mike Funk, far right, an attorney with Steptoe and Johnson, conducts a foreclosure sale on the steps of the Berkeley County Courthouse Thursday. Aero-Smith Inc. was the high bidder for the former Tiger Aircraft assembly plant.
Journal photo by John McVey
Mike Funk, far right, an attorney with Steptoe and Johnson, conducts a foreclosure sale on the steps of the Berkeley County Courthouse Thursday. Aero-Smith Inc. was the high bidder for the former Tiger Aircraft assembly plant.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The former Tiger Aircraft assembly plant in the Eastern Regional Airport’s business park was sold during a foreclosure auction on the steps of the Berkeley County Courthouse Thursday for $435,000 to Aero-Smith Inc.

George Smith, president of Aero-Smith, did not want to discuss any plans for the property after the auction.

Aero-Smith is the fixed base operator at the Eastern Regional Airport with office and hangar space on the airport, providing services such as fueling, hangars, tie-down parking and maintenance.

Aero-Smith also has a flight training school, charters aircraft and manages aircraft for their owners.

Mike Funk, of the Steptoe and Johnson law firm, conducted the auction on behalf of the trustee, James C. Gardill of the law firm of Phillips, Gardill, Kaiser and Altmyer in Wheeling.

In February 2011, Jason Kuhn bought out of bankruptcy the former Tiger Aircraft assembly plant at the Airport Authority’s business park.

Tiger Aircraft made general aviation airplanes from 2001 to 2006, putting together 50 of the four-seat planes at its plant before going bankrupt in 2007.

Kuhn’s plan was to manufacture aircraft parts and offer aircraft maintenance and repair at the facility, which includes 62,000 square feet of hangar and office space with parking and direct access to the airport’s airstrip.

Aviation Solutions apparently ceased operations several months ago.

The West Virginia Economic Development office authorized $3.2 million in bonds for Kuhn to purchase the building.

Wesbanco Bank Inc. is the bond holder and forced the foreclosure sale.

“The economy got me – I tried,” Kuhn, who attended the auction, said Thursday. “I’m happy Aero-Smith got it. It will be good for the airport and the community. I hope they’re able to do something with it…”

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