Gulfstream G-200 leads the jet parade as Yampa Valley Regional Airport reopens |

Gulfstream G-200 leads the jet parade as Yampa Valley Regional Airport reopens

Tom Ross
NetJet pilots Mitch Baker, left, and Jim Ruttler landed the first aircraft arriving at Yampa Valley Regional Airport after a 70-day closure for runway construction shortly before 4:15 p.m. Thursday. The Gulfstream G-200 turned around promptly for Austin, Texas, with clients it met at Atlantic Aviation. Two more private jets had landed at YVRA by 4:49 p.m.
Tom Ross

— Yampa Valley Regional Airport is back in business. Less than 15 minutes after the newly paved runway re-opened at 4 p.m. Thursday following a 70-day construction closure, a chartered jet operated by NetJets inbound from Rocky Mountain Metro Airport in Broomfield swooped over the runway to gauge a stiff cross wind, circled back and touched down.

By 4:16 p.m., a second chartered jet, this one an Embraer Phenom 300, was on the apron in front of Atlantic Aviation.

Airport Director Kevin Booth was clearly relieved. The closure had lasted 10 days longer than planned, causing passengers on commercial flights from Denver on United Express to make new plans, some of them re-booking in and out of Eagle County Airport. Weather was the culprit with May seeing more than double the average rainfall.

Booth left nothing to chance Thursday.

“At about noon, 10 of us walked the (10,000-foot) runway in both directions, picking up any debris, any stray piece of gravel,” Booth said.

A large handful of construction supervisors and engineers, representing general paving contractor United, of Grand Junction, and subcontractors were on hand to see the first flight come in. They included Jeremy Lee of Jviation, whose company planned and oversaw the project for Routt County.

United’s lead superintendent Richard Fults said the unpredictable weather led to unpredictable work schedules that sometimes ran around the clock and ratcheted up the stress on his crew members, who were bunking in hotels in Craig and Steamboat.

“It was unbelievably hard on our people,” Fults said. “Some quit. We had people walk off (the job). It weeded out the weak.”

The NetJets G-200 took off for Austin, Texas, with it sclients. And a third private jet had arrived at the airport by 4:49 p.m.

The airport serves Steamboat Springs and Craig, and the first daily flight of the summer from Houston on United Express was due in Thursday evening. It was to be followed much later in the evening by another United Express flight, this one from Denver, signaling the resumption of two daily roundtrips to and from Denver International Airport for the summer.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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