Planes still flying into Eagle County airport |

Planes still flying into Eagle County airport

Chris Outcalt
Eagle County, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyAn aerial view of the Eagle County airport shows where portions of the main runway have been torn up and the skinnier, temporary runway next to it. Smaller planes are able to use the temporary runway while the main one is being renovated and extended.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” The Eagle County Airport isn’t closed to everyone.

Larger commercial jets haven’t been able to fly in or out of the airport because of runway maintenance for a month, but smaller charter and private planes are still making use of a skinnier, temporary runway next to the main one.

“We’re still there,” said Katie Jensen, president of Alpine Air, a Colorado-based airline that runs private charter flights from Eagle County to Denver while the main runway is closed.

The airport’s main taxiway was converted into a temporary runway while the regular runway is renovated an extended. The runway closed on April 15 and will reopen to larger jets in September.

The smaller runway can only accommodate planes that fly at much lower speeds than commercials jets and have wingspans smaller than 78 feet.

“The difference is we’re able to keep a majority of our tenant-based aircraft on the field,” said Chris Anderson, the airport’s terminal director. “It’s a great convenience for them not to have to move their aircraft to another airport.”

Gypsum resident Brad Ludden said he was ecstatic airport officials decided to use the taxiway as a temporary runway. His Cessna plane, which he houses at the airport, has no trouble meeting the restrictions.

“When your airport shuts down, as a pilot it’s pretty devastating,” Ludden said. “We’re really fortunate that they’ve made it possible for us to continue flying ” it’s huge.”

Ludden loves to fly recreationally, but also uses his plane to commute to his hometown in Montana. It takes 15 or 16 hours to drive there, but only about five to fly, he said.

“It does affect the commercial and larger private jets,” Ludden said, “but other than that it’s still the Eagle airport, it’s all there.”

About 45 private aircraft are housed at the airport, Anderson said.

Keeping a temporary runway open has been helpful to the Vail Valley Jet Center, too, said Paul Gordon, president of the jet center.

“They were talking about just closing the whole airport,” Gordon said. “Converting this southern section into a runway allows us to keep people employed. It was huge for us.”

The temporary runway is only open during the day.

Alpine Air has an 8-seat Cessna plane it can fly out of the airport.

“I think a lot of people aren’t aware (the airport is open),” Jensen said. “We’re not flying in and out as often as we’d like.”

Staff Writer Chris Outcalt can be reached at 970-748-2931 or

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