The Ravalli County Airport started to officially allow planes to land Thursday, July 8, as the main construction of the new longer runway has been completed. The airport has extended its runway 1,000 feet to a length of 5,200 feet. The project included new ramps and taxi-lanes. The airport has been closed since April this spring while the new landing strip was built.

A grand opening celebration will be happening Saturday, July 10, with Choice Aviation serving breakfast at 7 a.m. and rides for kids age 4 to 16 starting at 9 a.m. The kids will also look forward to a ping pong ball drop as part of the day's activities. Pilot competition is also planned for the day.

The new runway was required to conform to FAA rules of separation between the main runway and taxi-ways. As development of plans continued, other safety considerations were addressed, including the removal of trees for a safer approach, LED taxiway lights and over a dozen lighted signs. The landing strip extension allows the ability of the airport to land Airplane Design Group II aircraft such as Beech King Air C90, Cessna Citations, Falcon 50 and 90 and some Gulfstream aircraft.

The extension of the runway required lowering the height of a hill on the north end of the property. Once that earthmoving was done, the paving began in June. The Ravalli County Commissioners recently completed a land acquisition of the Daly Ditches property at the south end of the runway for $375,000. That enabled tree removal for a better approach and later improvements to the airport property. Some further construction details of the main runway project will require temporary closures through October of this year. For a video of the construction and more information check the airport's website.

Airport construction sign. (KLYQ Photo)
Plane on the new runway. (Steve Fullerton, Townsquare Media)

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