Tours take off at Yampa Valley Regional Airport |

Tours take off at Yampa Valley Regional Airport

— This is the slow season, but there still is a lot to see and do during a whirlwind, two-hour, behind-the-scenes tour at Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

With so many pieces of costly yet necessary equipment, heavy security and basically a four-hour window to get skiers in and out of YVRA during the ski season, it is easy to understand why airport officials need to do some careful planning.

As part of their 20-year master plan process, YVRA officials hosted a tour for members of the public Wednesday. There are two more tours from 10 a.m. to noon Oct. 16 and from 1 to 3 p.m. Nov. 13. Those who are interested in attending should call 970-276-5001 because space is limited. Additional information regarding the master plan and airport tours can be found here.

For major airport projects, the Routt County-owned airport relies heavily on funding from the Federal Aviation Administration and Colorado Department of Transportation Aeronautics. Airport Manager Dave Ruppel explained during the tour that developing a sound master plan is important in receiving that funding.

The tour started by exploring the terminal. Phase 3 of a major terminal overhaul was completed in 2010.

Ruppel also took visitors behind the check-in area and explained how luggage is screened efficiently by workers from the Transportation Security Administration.

A school bus took the tour attendees along the airport’s runway, which will be resurfaced next summer. YVRA will be closed for 60 days during the project. Ruppel then guided the bus to the maintenance building, where YVRA’s massive, state-of-the-art snow-removal and firefighting equipment was on display.

In addition to the runway resurfacing, Ruppel discussed several other projects that likely will be incorporated into YVRA’s master plan.

Next year, a new service road will be built to help keep vehicles away from aircraft on the runway and taxiways.

In the next 10 years, Ruppel also envisions adding more parking for aircraft and further expanding the terminal. YVRA also could see jetways. Currently, passengers unload the aircraft and have to walk outside to the terminal.

“Right now, it’s kind of a novelty,” Ruppel said. “You don’t get that in most airports. We get people showing up in stiletto high heels, flip flops and shorts.”

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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