Plans for a new Walla Walla University Flight School got some direction Thursday.

Port of Walla Walla commissioners agreed to explore the possibility of demolishing the old airport terminal building and allowing the university to build its own facility that would include a roughly 11,000-square-foot hangar and 3,500-square-foot office and classroom space.

That spot was the preferred option for the university, largely due to location and access, plus available parking, said Philip Glendrange, operations manager for the aviation program.

The university’s Flight School has operated at the Walla Walla Regional Airport since 2000 and has been in talks with the Port over a possible new facility for about a year. It has filed a letter of intent on the project.

Other options have included tearing down the hangar currently leased by Blue Mountain Aviation. That idea was dismissed by commissioners. The other viable option could be a purchase of a privately owned hangar at the airport and a land lease with the Port, as well as construction of an office building and parking lot.

Whether the location at the old terminal turns out to be possible partially depends on the program’s ability to raise funds. Glendrange said the building construction budget is estimated around $800,000. The goal amount is also dependent on how the Port is able to share the costs of demolition, which also includes asbestos abatement, on the old terminal with the program.

The old terminal does have some tenants, but many are on a month-to-month basis with the knowledge that plans for the building may change. Others are already working on possible relocations, said Airport Manager Jennifer Skoglund.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at 509-526-8321, or on Twitter at

Vicki covers business and economic development, including tourism, the Port of Walla Walla and the Strictly Business column, as well as features. She has been reporting for the Union-Bulletin since late 2001.