The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Division of Aeronautics named Astronaut Kent Rominger Airport (RCV) “2020 Colorado Airport of the Year.” This annual award recognizes Colorado public-use airports “that exhibit outstanding contributions to the Colorado Air & Space System.” The CDOT press release adds, “Airports distinguished with this recognition demonstrate values that fall in line with the CDOT Division of Aeronautics mission to advance a safe, efficient, and an effective statewide air and space system through collaboration, investment, and advocacy.”

Improvements at RCV began in 2010, when CDOT Aeronautics supported the state/local-funded runway upgrade, in response to the medical evacuation needs of Del Norte’s new Rio Grande Hospital. RAF Colorado Liaison Tom Haefeli noted that the airport was also seeing more visitor traffic, enjoying the many recreational flying opportunities the area has to offer. It was apparent to Tom that some sort of facility was needed to serve transient pilots. The Airport Advisory Board (chaired by Mr. Haefeli) developed an idea for a multi-use facility that would be easy to maintain and could be of benefit to the local community as well.

Tom was awarded a $30,000 RAF grant to participate in the design and construction of the project. The new facility was recently completed, thanks to other funding, including many private donors and donated labor, supplies, heavy equipment use and operation from the various contractors involved. The Rio Grande County Airport Fund supplied the balance of funding. “It was a truly community project,” Haefeli said. 

The building offers WiFi, refrigerator, stove and restroom with shower, and adjacent campsites. The building includes a classroom for local high school STEM classes, and the part-time Airport Manager’s office.

The CDOT press release continues: “The volunteer leadership of the airport has helped make RCV one of the shining examples in Colorado of what a small rural general aviation airport can do to support its community and its residents and visitors.

According to the 2020 Economic Impact Study of Colorado Airports, the Astronaut Kent Rominger Airport is responsible for supporting 31 jobs, producing over $1.36 million in annual payroll, while generating $5.38 million in overall business revenue. 

“This is great recognition for an exemplary volunteer accomplishment. Nice job Tom!” RAF President Bill McGlynn said of the honor.

Submitted on June 17, 2020

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