Northeast Wyoming Regional Airport
flying into future growth
Capital upgrades and commercial opportunities are set to take off for Northeast Wyoming Regional Airport
Todd Chatfield began work in an entry-level position at the Northeast Wyoming Regional Airport 17 years ago. Over time he has worked his way through the positions to the very top. As Executive Director, Chatfield channels his passion for his community and what it has to offer. He sees the airport as essential to grow not only Gillette but this entire region of Wyoming. The airport and what it has to offer are vital as they seek to move into the future.
Gillette is situated between the Bighorn Mountains to the west and the Black Hills to the east, in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming. This is a railway town that became a natural resources city. This is an area with vast quantities of coal, oil, and coalbed methane gas – known as the “Energy Capital of the Nation”; Wyoming provides nearly 35% of the coal used in the United States.
Gillette is also home to amazing, picturesque landscapes that capture the imagination and energy of the Old West. Located between Mount Rushmore and Devil’s Monument – an hour from each. We are talking pristine nature, thousands of Bison, hunting, fishing, camping, and kayaking make this the ideal outdoor adventure area.
Gillette is the actual place where gunslingers hung out in saloons, a storied history they are eager to share with visitors. As you stroll down the streets you will see modern and old-fashioned co-existing as you stop in for mead or check out the local art scene which has taken hold.
Northwest Wyoming Regional Airport (GCC) sits on 894 acres and has two concrete runways: 16/34 is 7,500 by 150 feet and 3/21 is 5,803 by 75 feet – both are concrete. The airport’s Fixed Base Operator (FBO) – Flightline, is set to be replaced as of July 1st by Gate One – which will expand the offerings of the airport dramatically. Both Flightline and Gate One offer all of the usual amenities one might expect, from fuel services to courtesy cars, pilots’ lounges, and maintenance.
“So, we partnered with Gate One,” Chatfield explains, “who run the FBO services in several communities, knowing that they would be well suited to taking on the regular offerings of an FBO, but that they are also well suited to do more. We hope that they will set up a flight school, and we are in negotiations with Gillette Community College to start both a flight program and an A&P mechanics program. The county, which owns the airport, also owns the fuel farm and we will be negotiating a new lease agreement for Gate One.”
Last year Northeast Wyoming saw 23,520 enplanements. United Airlines, through SkyWest, offer commercial service to Denver twice daily. The rest of the traffic is corporate travel, which Chatfield would say accounts for 85 percent of general aviation, and then leisure.
Another major partner in the field is Guardian Flight, which is a Life Flight Company and offers medical transit for Gillette. The working relationship with the airport has been a good one, they rent office space, use some of the facilities, and of course, account for significant fuel sales.
“So, right now we have an empty FBO terminal. We constructed a new one thinking that when we get a larger FBO up and running it will already be in place,” says Chatfield.
“It was completed in 2022 and we will be officially opening it on July 1st. At the same time, we are moving forward with improvements to other aspects of the airport as well. We have a project that has just gained approval from the Airport Board and the County Commissioners which we have been calling our South Side Hangar Development Plan. We are doing a study right now looking at what sort of infrastructure work would be necessary to open up that section. And what we are hoping to construct there are large hangars – corporate hangars.”
“We are really excited about the possibilities that this is going to open up because we are at the point now where everything we have is full, with people building their own hangers, and a huge waiting list. Last month we also entered into a lease agreement with an individual to build another hanger, but after that is finished, everything is tied up and we have no more space to build until we open a new section. Right now, I am receiving four or five calls a month from people wanting to build hangars,” he adds.
Looking ahead, Chatfield explains that there is a major rehabilitation of the main runway planned for 2025. This is only in the consultation phase with the FAA now and it is too soon to tell whether this will be a remove-and-replace complete mill and overlay, done in sections, or even just a white top. This will be runway 34/16 which is currently a concrete runway. “That runway is actually 40 years old, and it has grown in and takes a lot of work to maintain. We need to cut down a side of growth and work on new drainage – and along with that we will be looking at an all-new LED lighting system as well as some other safety measures.”
“We work really closely with the city,” says Chatfield, “as well as with the county, who owns the airport. We also work with the Chamber of Commerce and the tourist bureau in order to look at being really intentional about not only commercial development but making sure we have safe and reliable air service for whatever is happening.”
Chatfield describes the way forward. “ We just had a meeting recently about how the Pathfinder Camporee is going to take place in Gillette next year. It is a church organization, and this camporee is going to bring 50,000 people into Gillette. Which is a city of roughly 38,000 people. So, it is a significant undertaking. So, this is going to be a coordinated effort with our airport, our new FBO, and the city to be able to provide air service for that number of people.”
“My top focus really is to bring in more business and more hangars,” Chatfield concludes, “Whatever we can do as an airport, a board, as the city or the county to bring business here, we will do it. We would love to add larger T-hangars, a business park, or whatever it is that will draw people to the region, we are all for it. More people need to find out how wonderful it is here.”
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AT A GLANCE
Northeast Wyoming Regional Airport
WHAT: A growing General Aviation Airport
WHERE: Gillette, Wyoming
Gillette Main Street and the Campbell County Convention & Visitors Bureau – gillettemainstreet.us
If you are looking for a monumental vacation in one of the most wild and picturesque regions of the world, look to Campbell County. Downtown Gillette has the feel of the Old West, with a quaint downtown charm. At the Campbell County Convention and Visitors Bureau, you’ll be directed to a multitude of some of the most unique and largest concentration of shops and boutiques to explore. Visit our website to find out more about how Gillette Main Street and the Visitors Bureau can help make your trip a memorable one.