Pueblo Memorial Airport
dynamic, beautifully located, and growing
With a dynamic lineup of capital improvements projects in the ‘wings’, Pueblo Memorial Airport is set to take off
“We’re located in Southeastern Colorado,” begins Greg Pedroza, Airport Director of Pueblo Memorial, “and we consider ourselves a regional airport for the Southeastern Colorado region. We are situated rather ideally at the intersection of Interstate 25 and Highway 50 which makes us a major hub on two corridors. We are also at the convergence of two rivers that make Pueblo an ideal place to live and work.”
He is not wrong, with over 300 days of sunshine annually and more than a few swimming holes along those two rivers, the Arkansas River and Fountain Creek, and only twelve inches of precipitation year-round – it seems almost paradise. The city is home to over 111,000 people.
The Air Transportation needs of the area are met by Pueblo Memorial Airport which began life back in 1941 as the Pueblo Army Air Base, it was used as an advanced flying school to train B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator four-engine heavy bomber crews. In 1948 it was handed over to the City of Pueblo. In the 1960s the main runway was extended from 6,000 feet to 10,000 feet to accommodate jet aircraft.
Today Pueblo Memorial covers 3,872 acres and has three runways: 8R/26L, the primary runway, is 10,498 by 150 feet. 17/35 is 8,310 by 150 feet, while 8L/26R is 4,690 by 75 feet. In terms of General Aviation, the airport is serviced by Freeman Jet Center. They offer DLA-Approved Aviation Fuel and Ground Services, Oxygen Services, hangars, pilot facilities, ground transportation, and even a restaurant.
“We have this beautiful facility and a runway to land any sort of plane,” says Pedroza, “and we have this beautiful city with trees, beautiful golf courses, and parks. Currently, we provide commercial service to Denver International Airport. This is partially funded under the Essential Air Service Program. We’d love to see us going in other directions, but for now, daily flights to and from Denver and that is your connection to the larger aviation network. We have just signed an agreement with Southern Airways Express to fly smaller nine-seat aircraft to provide that essential air service to our community.”
With a very large and accommodating runway, Pueblo Memorial sees some interesting traffic. Freeman Jet Centre services large corporate planes, but one of the largest to land regularly flies to the airport to drop off or pick up materials for United Launch Alliance, which in partnership with Lockheed Martin does defense contract work for the government. The most unusual loading and unloading you will ever see is when the Nasa Super Guppy lands. Another important partner on the field is CAE Defense and Security which provides Initial Flight Training for the Air Force and also partners with the Air Force Academy.
“Pueblo is an easy place to land and come and go from and the hospitality from this FBO is top of the line.” Pedroza adds, “There is everything you need for executive travel and the building is very welcoming. They also have trucks to provide all your fueling needs. Another company, Sibran, provides self-serve AvGas on the west side of the Airfield for the touch-and-go general aviation traffic.”
“Like many airports, we’re facing similar challenges of not enough hangar space and deteriorating infrastructure,” he continues, “But we plan to try to address some of those things over the long term. We have just completed our master plan that outlines our needs for the next 20 years. It indicated the need for better pavement on the ramp, as well as a lack of hangar space. So again, with the work of our partners with the FAA and the Colorado Department of Transportation, we’re identifying a plan moving forward to rectify some of these long-standing deficiencies of our airfield.”
The first step is rehabilitation, a mill, and an overlay of the primary runway. This will hopefully take place over the summer season, allowing the longer runway to be operational by fall. They have also created and shelved a shovel-ready plan to completely rehabilitate the terminal based on capacity. It will have a new interior as well as exterior façade, allow for greater accessibility, and create a restroom past the TSA checkpoint, where there currently are none.
In 2020 the Colorado Department of Transportation performed an airport economic impact study. That study identified that Pueblo Memorial Airport accounts for over $100 million in business revenues “So that’s just people that work around or near the airport or utilize the airport for business,” says Pedroza, “and then you factor in the visitor spending that comes through the airport, that we help facilitate and you are looking at over $10 million in tourist dollars as well. The city recognizes the asset that this airport is and has been very generous and understanding in terms of supporting our growth and development.”
Most businesses surrounding the airport are not aviation related but there is a business park environment that has grown up. The airport provides a security check and works closely with the tenants to try and help them grow together. A major industrial neighbor is MxV Rail, the world’s leading train research and testing facility. Together with MxV, the airport has begun tentative investigations into creating a more multimodal environment. There is also some talk of a light rail transit system to Denver, and it may be possible for Pueblo Memorial to become the hub for both routes. “We have multiple acres of land owned by the city surrounding the airport,” Pedroza adds, “and with the right partner anything could be possible.”
Pedroza holds Pueblo near and dear to his heart. Although he was born in Southern California, his grandmother, and roots, brought him back to Pueblo. The city is also home to the State Fair and even as a kid, he found the town to be full of wonder and potential.
“I spent a lot of summers here,” he admits, “so I got to sort of have a soft spot in my heart for Pueblo over those years. By the time I was going through college and things just weren’t quite working out for me in Southern California, I came here, met my wife, raised three daughters, and took advantage of opportunities as I encountered them. I was first hired by the city in the maintenance operations role here at the airport. So, it was one of our entry-level positions and this was about 11-12 years ago, and I have since moved my way up to the Director position, “ he asserts.
“Just by, you know, working hard, and having a good attitude. I was initially promoted to the supervisor of our OPS and maintenance team. And about 3 1/2 years ago now, since August of 2019, our director had moved on to another airport, at this time, the Mayor asked if I would sit in as interim, and after two years, I fulfilled some educational requirements and was able to get the job appointed full time,” Pedroza adds.
“Pueblo has provided me and my family with some outstanding opportunities,” he continues, “and I see my job as the steward of the airport on behalf of the taxpaying citizens of Pueblo. I want the airport to succeed, and I want it to grow so that our community can be proud of it and utilize it. And I want it to be a welcoming environment for anybody who is going wherever they’re going. Because when you think about when people are jumping on a plane. Whether it’s for business, or pleasure, to go see family – there are so many reasons to get on a plane and we want to be here for any of them.”
AT A GLANCE
Pueblo Memorial Airport
WHAT: A Regional and General Aviation Airport
WHERE: Pueblo, Colorado
Freeman Jet Center – https://freemanholdingsgroup.com/freemanjetcenterpub/
Freeman Jet Center sets the standard for excellence, safety and customer service! We are a dynamic FBO offering DLA-Approved Aviation Fuel and Ground Services as well as amenities for PAX and crew. Our professional and experienced staff has safety and service as their highest priority as you have come to expect at Pueblo Memorial Airport!