Killdeer’s newly reopened Weydahl Field airport won the state’s 2015 General Aviation Airport of the Year award during the Upper Midwest Aviation Symposium held Tuesday.
The award, which is distributed by the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission, celebrates airports that exhibit “excellence in maintaining safety, project management, and community awareness.”
In Weydahl Field’s case, the award celebrates its re-opening last June with a new runway and fuel system after being closed for more than a decade.
“We’ve been working hard at this since 2012,” said Mike Schollmeyer, the Dunn County Airport Authority Chairman.
Schollmeyer oversaw the effort to get the airport back in operation, which began that year under Clarence Schollmeyer, his late father and the airport authority’s former chairman.
Prior to that, the airport was technically closed for 10 years, though pilots could “land at your own risk.”
Still, pilots landed there, and when oil business in the region increased, Schollmeyer said the runway’s traffic did too despite its state of disrepair.
In 2013, a storm destroyed a hangar and some aircraft stored inside, which Schollmeyer said prompted the community to consider the runway’s deterioration.
Schollmeyer said he knew what to say when he approached the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission for the necessary funds.
“Our sales pitch (was), we were the busiest closed airport in the state,” he said.
The funding was secured, and Dunn County allotted some money as well. The project cost just under $5.3 million to complete.
Schollmeyer said the airport plans to install a new hangar this summer.
For now, though, he said the award brings a sense of accomplishment.
“We’ve come a long way in a short time,” he said.