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Sun, Apr 15, 2018

New Owner Of Peach State Aerodrome Finds Purpose In Future Of Airport

Keven Sasser Had Lost His Son In An Airplane Accident, But That Did Not Deter Him In His New Endeavor

If there is anyone familiar with the depth of purpose that comes with carrying on the legacy of a beloved pilot gone too soon, no one knows it better than Keven Sasser, private pilot and new owner of Peach State Aerodrome, though it isn’t only because his predecessor was the well-known and respected aviator, Ron Alexander.

Two years prior to Ron’s untimely death, Keven lost his own son in a 2014 airplane accident. Hank Sasser, a private pilot who escaped to the skies anytime he could in his prized Citabria, which he called Lil Red, was only 24 years old.

Keven Sasser happened upon Ron Alexander and Peach State Airport in Williamson, GA, in 2015, just when it seemed the fog of grief would never lift. In Ron, Keven found a friend who shared his passion for aviation and who helped him discover a renewed sense of purpose as the two talked about Ron’s dreams for Peach State and the youth aviation program, many which were still unrealized. Together the pair made plans on how to turn those dreams into reality.

Those plans appeared to be cut short when Ron died in a November 2016 accident shortly after taking off from Peach State while piloting his vintage Curtiss JN-4 Jenny. However, before long, Ron’s tragic death only strengthened Keven’s resolve to create something meaningful from yet another loss, now not only in memory of Hank, but in honor of Ron as well.

Perhaps it’s something only a pilot can fully understand: losing a loved one to aviation yet looking to aviation to heal. Since the death of their son, “keep it going” had become a rally cry for the Sasser family as they sought to honor Hank’s life. Today, Keven Sasser and his wife, Linda, plan to do just that through Peach State Aerodrome, which they purchased April 4, 2018, from the Ron Alexander family.

For Keven Sasser, whose has spent his career owning and developing businesses, his longtime hobby will now become his full-time focus. Preliminary plans include bringing to reality many of the things Ron and Keven spent hours dreaming about just a few years ago: developing the airport, adding new hangars, building “hangarminiums,” and continuing to support the Candler Field Museum as well as the Youth Aviation Program, of which Keven is now the director. Teaching local youth how to build, maintain, and fly airplanes is a particular passion for Keven, and he is eager to expand the unique program that Ron pioneered.

“We are grateful to Regina Alexander as well as Ron’s daughters, Julie Alexander and Jane Smith, for entrusting us with this next season for Peach State Aerodrome,” said Keven Sasser. “We look forward to building on Ron’s legacy and further developing Peach State as a premier public private airport, complete with a thriving program that continues to make aviation accessible to today’s youth, many whom might not otherwise have the opportunity.”  

Also included in the purchase is Barnstormer’s Grill, a popular restaurant with visitors and locals that the Sassers hope to develop to a destination restaurant in central Georgia.

Peach State Airport was originally named Antique Acres by its founder, then Delta pilot Carl Hoffman, in 1968. The airport changed hands a few times over the years before Ron Alexander purchased the property in April 2005. Peach State is currently home to over 25 airplanes, with over 100 planes flying in and out each week. Peach State Airport includes the Aerodrome, Barnstormer’s Grill, and the adjacent Peach State Airpark, a planned airport community of 30 homes that are accessible to and share ownership in the airport runway.

Candler Field Museum and Youth Aviation Program will remain at Peach State Aerodrome but will continue to operate as non-profit organizations managed by their respective boards of directors. In addition to supporting the museum and the youth program, Keven and Linda Sasser serve on the board of the Hank Sasser Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to continue their son’s legacy by providing resources and education to others who desire to grow in the areas of leadership and aviation.

(Source: Peach State Aerodrome news release. Images provided)



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