Northern Colorado Regional Airport

Jason Licon, Airport Director providing an explanation to officials from throughout Northern Colorado about the Remote Air Traffic Control operation.

The duties of Estes Park’s officials sometimes include working beyond the town’s boundaries. Such work often involves engaging with officials from other communities. It takes many forms, including having common goals, collaborating on projects, and sharing information. Through it, officials make plans and build relationships that mutually benefit their respective communities and jurisdictions. Understanding the importance of this work, involves nothing more than recalling the mayor of Longmont offering housing to townspeople of Estes Park evacuated during wildfires and sending personnel here during floods.

In that spirit, last week Trustee Younglund, Town Administrator Machalek and I went to Loveland for a regional meeting of officials to learn about changes at the Northern Colorado Regional Airport. The airport was established in 1963, via a 1,000-acre grant of land that enabled Fort Collins and Loveland. Fort Collins Mayor Jeni Arndt and Loveland Mayor Pro Tem Don Overcash greeted several dozen attendees from throughout Northern Colorado. After which, Airport Director Jason Licon explained the expansion projects at the airport and invited us to tour the Terminal Renovation, Remote Air Traffic Control Tower Tour, Aims Community College Aviation Program Tour and the United/Landline Wingless Flight bus Tour.

During the tour of the Remote Air Traffic Control Tower, we learned that the new control tower, with capacity for remote operation, is in its second year of testing. One of only two in the USA that can operate remotely, certification of the operation will come as services and flights expand when the airport expansion is completed. Currently, the operational control tower sits in a trailer next to the airport runways operating adequately for safety at the current flight load of the airport. In order to expand to a 100,000-flight level of operation, a new, state-of- the art control tower will be necessary.

I was particularly excited to learn about the pilot training program the airport is offering via Aims Community College. Airlines have a shortage of commercial pilots and Aims is helping to supply that need. Hearing about the program brought back fond memories of obtaining a pilot license while a student at CSU, the freedom of flying a 182, and the joy of piloting to Elma, Washington to visit my sister.

After the meeting ended, as Cindy, Travis and I were heading up Big Thompson Canyon, back to Estes Park, my thoughts were on the pledge I made to represent all the people of Estes Park. I was aware of the way that working to meet the pledge is taking me up, down and around Colorado. And that as I do so, I am fostering relationships with counterparts in other communities that’ll insure the common good of the townspeople of Estes Park continues being met. For me, despite the miles and efforts, that’s time well spent and a reminder that officials get together the people they serve benefit.

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