By Dave Elliott, Airport Manager
It’s been some time since Meadow Lake Airport provided an update about how we serve El Paso County and the Falcon community. With the new year, we have resolved to provide periodic updates.
The past few years have been a major step forward for Meadow Lake. The 2020 Colorado Aviation System Plan identified KFLY as a regional airport. The accompanying Economic Impact Study showed Meadow Lake contributing 273 jobs, with a $13,442,000 payroll and a total impact to the community of $45,010,000 in business revenues.
In 2021, the Meadow Lake Airport Association purchased the old American Aviation property on Judge Orr and converted that 50-year-old facility into the Rudy Welch General Aviation Terminal to serve the public (operated by the Springs Aviation flight school). As a result, we have seen an increase in transient aircraft visiting the area, and it is not uncommon to see a full ramp of visiting aircraft on weekends at this Meadow Lake Flight Center.
The year 2023 brought official recognition by El Paso County, with a 1041 permit for Meadow Lake Airport as a “matter of state interest.” This was based on the 2018 Airport Master Plan and Airport Layout Plan depicting internal development plans. The first of these occurred this past year with the installation of Runway End Identifier Lights and FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) Designed Instrument Approach procedures to the main runway. In June, we supported the aerial ground mapping water survey for the Upper Black Squirrel Creek Ground Water Management District by temporarily basing (providing a hangar) at Meadow Lake for the helicopter used in the operation.
To round out the year, we moved into our new snow removal equipment building on the west ramp for maintenance and storage of plows and brooms.
The west ramp is also evolving into the Meadow Lake Activities Center. The Experimental Aircraft Association Bruce McCombs Chapter 72 entered into a lease agreement to assume responsibility for the old hangar/restaurant and has expanded its operation with a new Red Bird flight simulator, a new youth group (Chapter 72.5), the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Squadron 160, Boy Scout Troop 149 and the Falcon AeroLab. We look forward to enhanced operations of the EAA Young Eagle program and a public open house, fly-ins and pancake breakfasts.
2024 is earmarked for runway maintenance and continued development of the west ramp, with the construction of a ground support equipment storage building. The new year will also bring continued development for the Falcon AeroLab Aviation Center of Excellence, a rapidly growing aviation 7-12 STEM program. This program started in 2017 with 12 students working around a home school schedule, and it has grown to more than 1,000 students in 20 locations around Colorado, Utah and Oregon. The base of operations for its powered and unpowered flight, aviation maintenance and drone operations, is at Meadow Lake and a need has been identified to construct a physical educational facility at the Meadow Lake Soaring Center.
Meadow Lake Airport continues to support the Children’s Hospital Flight Team, and several of our pilots provide “Angel Flights” throughout Colorado, transporting patients to needed medical care. We hope to expand these and other regional operations if we can get federal funding for a new terminal building and transient ramp. While we continue to improve our facilities on the airport and grow in our service to the Falcon community and El Paso County, there are no current plans to physically expand the size of the airport or our runways. We are committed to remain a “grass roots” general aviation airport, home to 485 local aircraft (as of the Dec. 1 Based Aircraft Inventory). See https:/www.GOKFLY.us.
Editor’s note: Dave Elliott, Meadow Lake Airport manager, will be submitting articles to the NFH intermittently to keep readers updated on all the activities and projects at the airport.