Fun Facts about Eagle County Airport (EGE)

If you’re planning a winter getaway to the stunning Colorado Rockies, chances are you’ll be flying into Eagle County Airport (EGE). This hidden gem of an airport, nestled in the heart of the mountains, is more than just a starting point for your ski adventure. With a rich history, unique features, and a vital role in the local community, Eagle County Airport has a story to tell. Join us as we explore 12 fascinating facts that will give you a new appreciation for this remarkable facility and help you make the most of your winter flight to EGE.

1. A Century in the Making

The story of Eagle County Airport began over a century ago, in 1911, when Louise Ellen Cooley purchased a plot of land that would later become the foundation for the airport. It wasn’t until 1947 that the airport was officially dedicated, with a grand ceremony attended by 2,000 residents. Talk about a long-awaited debut!

2. Barnstormers and Aerial Tricks

photo of Barnstormer pilot at Eagle County Airport circa 1931
photo of Barnstormer pilot at Eagle County Airport circa 1931

In the 1930s, the airport site became a popular spot for local residents to gather and watch barnstormers perform their aerial tricks and maneuvers. These daring pilots wowed the crowds with their gravity-defying stunts, leaving a lasting impression on the community.

3. The Visionary Commissioner

photo of Harry A Nottingham and his wife
photo of Harry A Nottingham and his wife

Harry A. Nottingham (yes, he is the one Nottingham Park in Avon is named after), an Eagle County Commissioner, envisioned a fully functional airport in Eagle County. In 1939, he worked with an engineer from Denver’s Airport District Office to lay out new plans for the airstrip. Thanks to his dedication and foresight, the airport began to take shape.

4. Rocky Mountain Airways: The STOL Pioneers

image 7 | Interesting Facts about Eagle Airport (EGE)
credit: Rocky Mountain Airways

During the mid-and late 1970s, Rocky Mountain Airways was the sole airline providing scheduled passenger service to Eagle County Airport. What made them unique? They flew STOL (Short Takeoff and Landing) capable aircraft, perfect for navigating the challenging mountain terrain.

Fun Fact: STOL aircraft can take off and land on runways as short as 1,000 feet!

5. The $80,000 Upgrade

In 1980, a successful private funding campaign led by John Oleson raised $80,000 to purchase an instrument landing system for the airport. This was a significant upgrade at the time and helped improve the airport’s safety and reliability.

6. Extreme Makeover: Airport Edition

New Terminal at Eagle County Airport
New Terminal at Eagle County Airport

Eagle County Airport saw major expansions and improvements in the 1990s and 2000s. In 1996, a new terminal was constructed, followed by the addition of a control tower in 2003 and an Instrument Landing System (ILS) in 2006. These upgrades transformed the airport into a modern, efficient facility, making accessing ground transportation from EGE easier for travelers.

7. The 9,000-Foot Runway

In 2009, the airport’s runway was extended and rehabilitated to its current length of 9,000 feet. This impressive feat allows heavier-weight takeoffs and can accommodate any size jet. Now that’s what we call a big deal!

Expanded Runway at Eagle County Regional Airport
Expanded Runway at Eagle County Regional Airport

8. History Channel Fame

Eagle County Airport gained national attention in July 2010 when it was featured on the History Channel’s “Most Extreme Airports.” The show ranked the airport as the 8th most extreme in the world due to its high elevation, unpredictable weather, and challenging terrain. Not every day an airport gets its 15 minutes of fame!

History Channel's
Clip from History Channel’s “Most Extreme Airports”

9. The $33 Million Facelift

In 2019, the airport completed a $33 million terminal expansion project, adding many new amenities. From a pet relief area to jet bridges, a larger restaurant and bar, private nursing areas, and touchless restroom fixtures, the airport now offers travelers a more comfortable and convenient experience. These improvements make it even easier for visitors to transfer from EGE to their favorite ski resorts.

Insider Tip: Don’t miss the stunning mountain views from the terminal’s floor-to-ceiling windows!

10. The Second Busiest Airport in Colorado (During Ski Season)

During the peak winter season, Eagle County Regional Airport transforms into the second busiest airport in Colorado. As the primary gateway to the world-class ski resorts of Vail and Beaver Creek, the airport welcomes thousands of skiers and snowboarders from around the globe. With a convenient winter flight schedule, getting to your favorite slopes has never been easier.

11. An Economic Powerhouse

Eagle County Airport is more than just a travel hub; it’s a major economic driver for the region. A Colorado Department of Transportation study found that the airport generates a staggering $642 million in business revenue and supports over 6,000 jobs. Who knew that an airport could have such a significant impact on the local economy?

12. The EGE Air Alliance

The EGE Air Alliance, a group of government and private-sector stakeholders, works tirelessly to support and promote air service to Eagle County Airport. They recognize the airport’s crucial role in the local tourism and ski industries and are dedicated to ensuring its continued success.

From its humble beginnings as a barnstormer’s playground to its current status as a world-class airport, Eagle County Regional Airport has a fascinating history and a bright future. Its continued growth and improvements have made it an essential hub for winter flights, ski resort transfers, and Eagle County Regional shuttles.

So, as you plan your next winter adventure to the Colorado Rockies, remember that flying into Eagle County Airport is more than just a means of getting to Beaver Creek or other Rocky Mountain town. It’s an opportunity to be a part of the airport’s rich history and to experience the warmth and hospitality of the local community. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned ski enthusiast, Eagle County Airport is your gateway to an unforgettable mountain getaway to Vail or any other local resort destination.

You might even spot a barnstormer or two performing their aerial tricks in the skies above! (Just kidding, those days are long gone, but the spirit of adventure lives on at Eagle County Airport.)

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