Colorado Springs Airport
Quick Overview of the Airport
In the U.S. state of Colorado, only one airport sees more traffic than Colorado Springs Airport, and few airports in the nation are of greater importance to their regions. Although there’s no doubt about the primary function of the facility (commercial flights), Colorado Springs Airport serves a second purpose as a military installation. In both of these capacities, the airport aptly serves its region and country.
History of Colorado Springs Airport
The origins of Colorado Springs’ joint civil-military, city-owned airport date back to 1927, when it was established on 640 acres near the city. At the time, the modest facility had just two gravel runways, but it would gradually expand to a level suitable for commercial passenger flights by the end of the 1930s (the first route was rather short, taking passengers no farther than El Paso, Texas). In 1940, expansion continued with the construction of the first true passenger terminal at the Colorado Springs Airport, which adopted the popular art deco architectural style of the time; soon after the erection of the new terminal, though, the beginning of American involvement in World War II led to the claiming of the grounds by the country’s military. After being used throughout the war, the airfield was returned to the city, leading to further development of commercial travel. In 1966, another terminal was built in Colorado Springs, and the next two decades saw significant expansion of this new structure; in addition to new terminals, improved runways were created, with three runways (including the longest in the state at the time) being present by 1991. The improvement in facilities could no longer keep up with the influx of passenger traffic, though, and 1991 saw the approval of a plan to build yet another new terminal to handle airport operations. The terminal would eventually open on October 22nd, 1994 after being constructed at the cost of 140 million dollars, adding 280,000 square feet to the airport’s grounds.
Despite certain airlines decreasing their presence in the area (thereby decreasing overall passenger volume at the airport), Colorado Springs Airport still serves over two million passengers per year. To handle the travel demands of its region, the airport currently has three paved runways (13,501, 11,022, and 8,269 feet long) and the aforementioned new passenger terminal. The airport sits on over 11 times the land (7,200) that it did at the time of its inception, but this isn’t just a result of commercial airline industry expansion. The military presence near the airport is evident, as Peterson Air Force Base lies just north of one of the runways. Over one-sixth of all aircraft-based operations at the site are military in nature, including both those conducted by helicopters (about 1%) and jets (about 12%). In addition to military operations, Colorado Springs Airport has a large portion of general aviation activity, which accounts for over half of all happenings at the facility.
Located just six miles southeast of the city of Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs Airport maintains a large local presence, but its importance to other parts of the state and nation cannot be overstated. Though not intended for multiple purposes when conceived so many years ago, Colorado Springs Airport proves vital in the support of the organizations, which call it home, whether civilian, martial, or in-between.