As runway and taxiway projects are completed at the Chadron Municipal Airport, the Nebraska Aviation Council has announced the facility as the site of the 2018 Nebraska State Fly In.
The unanimous decision was made earlier this month after reviewing Chadron’s application for the event. The Nebraska State Fly In just completed its 24th year with an event in Cozad, a city a bit smaller than Chadron. Cozad’s two-day fly in drew hundreds of people to the airport, according to the Nebraska Aviation Council website.
It appears 2018 will be the first time in history for Chadron to host the Nebraska State Fly In, though the event has taken place in Alliance previously, said Chadron City Manager Wayne Anderson. Approximately 3,000 attended that stopover.
“I think it’s exciting for the community,” Anderson said of the selection. “We’ve done a lot of work out there, and it’s a good chance to show it off.”
Potentially as many as 100 aircraft could be on display, and if planned properly, the event could attract thousands of people, he noted. That equals an economic boon to the city and an opportunity to recruit business owners to relocate or expand to Chadron and Dawes County.
While no definitive itinerary has been established, Anderson said it’s likely Chadron will host a two-day event that could potentially include aircraft rides, static displays, vendors and an air show and more.
The Airport Advisory Committee, along with the Chadron Chamber of Commerce and the Dawes County Travel Board will meet in October to begin planning the event, which is scheduled to take place sometime in June 2018.
Improvements at the airport include replacement of the 3/21 runway, which was found to have significant horizontal cracking, as well as the replacement of taxiways A and B and the construction of a new taxiway to provide direct access from the ramp to runway 12/30. The $7.6 million project is nearly complete.
Boutique Air also remodeled the terminal, and the City of Chadron has paved some of the parking area and has more paving in its 2016-17 budget.
Also mentioned in Chadron’s application for the fly in was the expected completion of the Chadron Area Aquatics and Wellness Center, downtown revitalization projects and a new hotel.
All of those factors were considered in selecting Chadron, said Diane Bartels with the Nebraska Aviation Council. Support from the Chamber of Commerce and the Dawes County Travel Board was particularly key.
“It is always important to have community support for the fly-in,” Bartels said in an email, adding that airport improvements and facilities in town also were also central to the decision.
The two-day event with a variety of activities should attract both pilots and non-pilots and their families, Bartels said.
“It is a chance to showcase the airport and how it impacts the local economy, as well as promoting an understanding and increased knowledge of general aviation,” she said.
Bringing the State Fly In to western Nebraska will also offer attendees a chance to visit a different part of the state, which is a goal of the Aviation Council. The 2017 fly-in will be next June in Norfolk.