In May of 1981
the Laurel Airport Authority was created. The creation of the
Authority transferred the responsibility for management and operation
of the airport from the City of Laurel to the Laurel Airport Authority. In
February of 1983 ownership of the land was transferred from the City
of Laurel to the Laurel Airport Authority.
The airport has
grown from its original 57 acres and 1300 foot dirt runway, to it's
current 170 acres and an airport that has one of the greatest potentials
for a general aviation reliever airport in the State of Montana. The
first airport improvements started in 1958 when the Airport Commission
built a 2850-foot paved runway that is still in use. In 1961,
preliminary engineering was started for the first-stage construction
of the present facilities. A 53% federal grant was received for
land acquisition, dirt work, seeding, fencing, engineering, the access
road, and grading. In addition two 10-year loans were received
from the Montana Aeronautics Commission.
A Unicom radio
was received from the State Aeronautics Commission in 1964 and put
into service at the Laurel Police Department. In 1977 the radio
was moved to the airport.
In October, 1965,
airport plans for the new 4000-foot runway were developed. In
1966, a beacon was installed, and in 1969, a new primary runway was
completed along with low-intensity runway lighting (LIRL).
of Upperwest Aviation, Inc., Laurel's first fixed base operator, started
operations at the Laurel Municipal Airport in November, 1976. Upperwest
Aviation offered charter service; private, commercial, and instrument
flight training; and certified airframe and powerplant mechanics. An
audio visual ground school was also available in conjunction with the
flight training. In ???? Northern Skies Aviation, Inc. became
the only FBO located at the airport. Several other aviation related
businesses are operated out of the Laurel Airport. (See Airport
Services web page for details on Services).
of an eight T-Hangar building was completed in June of 1977. The
apron was extended to include more tie-downs, and a partial parallel
taxiway and hangar access taxiways were made as part of an airport
improvement project in 1980. A turnaround for Runway 4/22 and
additional hangar access taxi lanes were constructed in 1983. The
parallel taxiway for Runway 4/22 was completed in 1988.
In 1993 HKM Engineering
was hired to complete a Masterplan update. By this date all hangar
space was leased. Ten new hangars were built by 1994 and the
airport was base to 72 aircraft. During this same year the Montana
Tradeport Authority provided funding to the Airport Authority through
a grant and loan to build a new North-South taxi lane. During
1995 one additional hangar was built.
was completed in 1996 and from then until 2000 the airport acquired
101 acres at a cost of $500,000, bringing the size of the facility
to 254 acres. Bids were let to start construction for the new
runway and taxiway. The expansion would include extending the
runway 240 feet north of the old surface. Completed, the runway
would be 5,200 feet long and 75 feet wide. This project was completed
in 2001 and included the addition of a new apron and taxiway.
New hangar areas
were built and old taxi lanes replaced in 2002. The development
of lots for additional hangars allowed for construction of various
sizes of storage facilities. The cost of this project was $1,848,000.
Also during 2002
Rocky Mountain College moved their Flight Operations School to the
Laurel Airport. Approximately 100 students would participate
in the program. Also a second fueling facility was constructed.