Aviation Park, located at the entrance to the Chan Gurney Municipal Airport, was created sometime after November 1976. Marilyn and Roger Huntley led the effort to name the park “Aviation Park,” and the new sign was installed on July 12, 2012. It had previously been referred to as Kiwanis (Airport) Park because the civic group had planted shrubs and trees to enhance the landscaping.
In cooperation with the city, the Yankton Regional Aviation Association (YRAA) which was founded in the spring of 1992 to promote general aviation at the Yankton airport and other nearby airports, helped enhance the park by adding a T-38 Static Display, which was dedicated on May 30, 2002. The YRAA funded an Eagle Scout project for Nick Mains the summer of 2003 to create landscaping with flowers and shrubs under the T-38.
“The way the airport is laid out, there was an open green space. It seemed reasonable to enhance that area by adding trees, grass, and an aircraft for display,” says Jake Hoffner, former Airport Manager. (The current airport supervisor is city-employee Mike Roinstad.)
The T-38 Talon is a two-seat, twin-engine, high altitude, supersonic jet trainer used in a variety of roles because of its design. It was the world’s first supersonic trainer and is also the most produced. Besides the US Air Force, NASA also used the T-38. As of 2019, the T-38 remains in service.
The airport is named for John Chandler “Chan” Gurney, a native of Yankton who was a sergeant in the US Army during World War 1 and later became a US Senator. Gurney was very influential in the development of the airport in 1942-43 and its use as a Naval Cadet Pilot Training facility. The airport was renamed Chan Gurney Municipal Airport on April 20, 1965. The airport terminal was built in 1971.
“Yankton Airport is vital to the future of Yankton,” says Hoffner.
The airport currently offers Flight Instruction, Aerial Ag Spraying, Corporate Jet operation, Air Ambulance, Aircraft Sales, Aerial Photography, Aircraft Maintenance, Young Eagle Flights, and support for Transient air traffic such as avgas and JetA fuel, 24-hour restrooms, conference room, free Wi-Fi, rest area, and hangar space.
“The Yankton Airport is a gateway to the world and a front door to Yankton. Yankton is growing, and the airport is an important link to that growth,” says Hoffner.
The airport is used by business aircraft in support of many businesses in the city and surrounding counties.
“Every citizen in Yankton is benefiting by having an upgraded, top-notch, and well-run airport,” Hoffner says.
The airport in 2018 was voted, “Best Maintained Large GA Airport of the Year” in South Dakota.
The public is welcome to visit the park and check out the T-38.