Watford City Municipal Airport Recognized As North Dakota General Aviation Airport Of The Year

Watford City Municipal Airport was recognized as the 2022 General Aviation Airport of the Year by the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission in partnership with the North Dakota Aviation Association. The airport attained this award for building a new runway and parallel taxiway, installing new runway lighting and instrument approach procedures.

These projects were started in 2020 and completed in 2021. The airport closed for six months in order to tear out the existing runway and install a new one, which has increased length and weight capacity making it possible for larger aircrafts to utilize the airport. The new runway is 6,550 feet long and 75 feet wide.

While these have been the most recently completed projects, the airport has been in the process of making improvements for the last ten years with discussions of improvements beginning just prior to the oil boom. The airport apron, where planes park, load and unload, has been rehabilitated from asphalt to concrete and has doubled in size and tie-downs. There are two new hangar taxilanes, 15 new hangars, a reconstructed parking lot, and a new Aviation and Terminal Building. Additionally, during this time, a Master Plan and Airport Layout Plan were developed, multiple planning studies, wetland and cultural studies were conducted and 60 acres of land were acquired for the project. In the last five to six years flight instruction, rental aircraft, and fuel has all been made available on site.

As a general aviation airport, Watford City Municipal Airport does not offer commercial flights, but is now better able to accommodate more charter planes, private planes, company planes and air taxis. Additionally, the airport is more easily accessible to those doing flight training, pipeline patrol, air ambulance services, and aerial application. In 2012, there were 2,800 aircraft operations and 14 based aircrafts versus 7,300 aircraft operations and 35 based aircrafts in 2022.

"We were looking at a runway rehab prior to the oil boom. The old runway was in poor condition and had penetrations to the approach ends, meaning that we would've had to shorten it from 4,400 feet to under 4,000 feet, limiting the planes we could accommodate even further. The oil boom just made that need greater," explained Airport Manager Luke Taylor, airport manager.

KLJ Engineering Services helped the airport throughout the process by assisting in obtaining federal grants, planning and design, and project management. Stata did all the electrical including runway lighting and poured concrete and Park Construction was contracted for all building needs.

Taylor, who has been the airport manager for the last seven years, and worked as airport authority four years prior to that stated, "The Watford City Municipal Airport is the front door to the community for those doing business here. These improvements solidify the future of the airport, Watford City, and McKenzie County because it enables companies to do business more easily, whether bringing in executives, contractors or employees."

 

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