Friday, June 8, 2018

Chadron Municipal Airport (KCDR) History and Other Flying Incidents Since 1951

Sept. 1951 1st Lt. John Hoke, 31, of Chadron was missing in action in Korea after the F-51 Mustang fighter plane he was piloting was seen making a pass over enemy targets and crashed. Hoke was a graduate of Chadron High and had attended Chadron State for three years before moving with his wife and two sons to Cheyenne. He was called into active duty with the Wyoming National Guard.

Sept. 1952 Two Chadron men died in a single-engine plane crash about 5 ½ miles southwest of Chadron. They were Solomon (Sully) Luft, 33, manager of the Chadron Airport and owner of Luft Aviation, and Dick Carlson, 28, a salesman for Chicoine Motor Co. Both had been World War II pilots. One wing of the plane struck a power pole. Carlson was a Crawford native and left a wife and two sons. Luft was from Sterling, Colo., and came to Chadron in 1947. He was survived by his wife and a son. (P.S. His wife eventually married a minister, was married to him more than 50 years and she was in her 90s when she died in early 2018.)

Jan. 1954 Chris Abbott, 64, of Hyannis, prominent rancher and president of the Bank of Chadron, eight other banks in Nebraska and a bank at Winner, S.D., died in an airplane crash near Shreveport, La., where he, nine other businessmen and two pilots were returning from hunting ducks.

Jan. 1954 Two Sioux County ranchers, Harry Engebretsen and Billy Andrews, died in a small plane crash 15 miles southwest of Harrison, where they were hunting coyotes.

July 1955 Harry Halstead, 61-year-old aerial crop sprayer, died 10 miles northeast of Chadron when the J-3 Piper cub he was flying crashed in a ravine on the Charlie Littrel ranch. Halstead was preparing to spray a wheat field owned by Carl Lindeken. The plane was owned by Carl and his brother Bill.

Oct. 1958 Frontier Airlines began east-west airline service to Chadron with its daily flights from Omaha to Casper.

December Chadron voters rejected a $30,000 bond issue by a 335 to 301 margin to construct an east-west runway and expand the loading ramp at the Chadron Airport. The entire project would have cost $120,000, including a $60,000 federal grant and $30,000 from the state.

Feb. 1959 The airport improvement bond issue that had failed in December 1958 was voted on again and passed by a 903 to 761 margin following “spirited campaigning.”

June 1959 The Nebraska Safety Patrol announced that it would begin nabbing speeders by using airplanes. Lines would be painted across highways a mile apart. Personnel in the planes would check the speed of motorists with stopwatches and use radios to notify patrolmen in cars of violations.

Nov. 1959 Frontier Airlines announced plans to abandon its northern route from Chadron to Omaha because of low passenger boardings. Stops also were made in Valentine, Ainsworth and Norfolk.

April 1960 Because of heavy fog, an Oklahoma pilot with a passenger aboard landed a single engine plane on a stretch of Highway 20 nine miles west of Crawford. The plane traveled 640 feet on the highway before it veered into a ditch and hit a fence.

Oct. 1961 Following months of legal hassling, the Civil Aeronautics Board in Washington, D.C., ruled that Frontier Airlines could abandon the northern route from Chadron to Omaha effective in December. The action came more than a year after Frontier discontinued its flights from Chadron to Casper. The CAB had anticipated that 34,000 passengers would use the service into Wyoming annually, but the total was only 6,600.

Dec. 1965 Chadron voters approved construction of a 6,000-foot runway to accommodate Frontier Airlines’ new Convairs. The vote was 666-93.

Oct. 1966 Construction of a runway at the Chadron Municipal Airport to help accommodate Frontier Airlines new Convair aircraft began after a contact for $291,870 was awarded. (See 2015-16 item about replacement of the runway.)

Jan. 1968 The first airmail taxi service left the Chadron Airport on Jan. 21.

Oct. 1969 Three men from Indianapolis died in airplane crash in the rugged buttes south of Whitney, probably while planning to land at the Chadron Airport. They reportedly were returning from a hunting trip to Wyoming.

May 1971 Pilot Darrell Moore of Lead, S.D., died in a plane crash southwest of Chadron while intending to land at the Chadron Airport because of bad weather. He initially was planning to fly to Kearney.

Jan. 1972 Lyle Kime, 29, manager of the Chadron Airport, and two passengers, Daniel French, 24, of Chadron, and Leo Pederson, 53, of Hot Springs, died in an airplane crash near Chambers, Neb.

Sept. 1974 Gordon attorney E.A. Anderson, 51, died in the wreckage of his small airplane about 15 miles east of Gordon. He apparently was looking over some land he was interested in purchasing when the wing of the plane caught the ground.

Feb. 1975 Capt. David Frerichs, a Strategic Air Command pilot stationed at Offutt AFB near Omaha, and three passengers died in a crash in the buttes on the Levi Richardson ranch south of Whitney during bad weather. The passengers included an Omaha pastor who was scheduled to speak at a Full Gospel Businessman’s Retreat at Camp Norwesca. The plane reportedly had made one pass over Chadron in bad weather and was circling back for a second approach.

June 1977 Four young men died when a single engine plane slammed into a gully about nine miles northwest of Gordon. The victims were Darwin and Rodney Calkins of Gordon, Robert Grant of Alliance and Samuel Foster of Hay Springs. The crash occurred near the Calkins’ farm. A family member who saw the plane fly overhead said the engine seemed to die while the craft was in the air.

July 1977 Paul Hartman of Whitney, who had been paralyzed since age 9 because of after-effects of chicken pox, soloed in Frank Snook’s single-engine plane, giving him another milestone. Earlier, Hartman was a state archery champion and graduated from Chadron State College before becoming a social worker for the Panhandle Mental Health Center.

Sept 1977 About 2,000 attended the first air show in Chadron in 25 years with aerobatics, skydiving and the display of unusual and antique airplanes featured. Among the participants was Charles Curothers, a Lincoln dentist who was the American International Aerobatics championship in 1974 with his Pitts Special. Another feature was a stunt routine by airport manager Jim Strang, who dressed as a grandmother, revved up a plane and took off.

June 1978 Steve Myers and Eric Reid, members of prominent Chadron families, were en route to the Lincoln area for a fraternity get-together when they died in a small plane crash near Columbus after it was caught in bad weather. Myers had been the valedictorian of the Chadron High Class of 1978.

April 1979 The Chadron Airport received a $147,903 grant from the federal government to resurface the runway, add an apron around the runway and install runway taxi lights.

April 1979 Frontier Airlines announced its intention for termination of service in the Nebraska Panhandle because the airports at Chadron, Alliance and Sidney could not accommodate its Boeing 737s. The airline could not drop the flights until a suitable replacement was found.

July 1979 Larry Wineteer, a Chadron native and an Air Force pilot, flew several missions to war-torn Nicaragua, including the flight that returned the body of broadcast journalist Bill Stewart, who was murdered while covering the revolution. In a letter to his parents, Wineteer said the airport at the capital of Managua was surrounded by Sandinista guerrillas.

May 1980 Four airlines applied to take over Frontier Airlines’ flights in the Panhandle. Pioneer Airlines was selected and began service on Dec. 1.

Dec. 1980 Pioneer Airways began serving Alliance, Chadron, Denver, Rapid City and Sidney on Dec. 1.

May 1982 Pioneer Airways requested an additional $22,000 monthly in federal appropriation in federal subsidy for its Panhandle route.

May 1982 A Chadron man, Terry Hupp, who was taking a training flight to qualify for a pilot’s license, escaped with minor injuries when he tried to land the single-engine craft in a pasture about two miles northwest of the airport. The plane’s engine died and the craft flipped onto its top when a front wheel entered a depression where a pipeline had been placed.

Sept. 1982 Pioneer Airways was granted a 30-day extension to provide airline service to the Panhandle. The Nebraska Department of Aeronautics went on record supporting an alternate proposal for air service that the airline presented.

Sept. 1982 For the second time in 1982, a small plane crashed north of Chadron. It was piloted by Harold Featherngill. A passenger, Larry Bernard, sustained two broken ankles and a back injury.

March 1983 Pioneer Airline said it would continue to serve the Panhandle with two flights daily to Denver for at least another year after its subsidy from the Civil Aeronautic Board was increased by more than $300,000 from the previous year. The new subsidy of $796,465, was raised, in part, because Pioneer was using a 19-passenger Fairchild Metro aircraft.
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Dec. 1983 The Chadron City Council issued an ultimatum to Pioneer Airlines that it must pay its rent at the Chadron Airport or leave. The council said Pioneer was three months behind on its $150 monthly landing fee and $110 monthly charge for use of the old terminal.

Dec. 1987 A GP Express commuter plane crashed south of Whitney, killing the pilot and co-pilot. However, a passenger, William Prante, 18, of Rushville survived despite being thrown out of the craft. An all-night search was conducted before he was found and taken to the Chadron hospital.

Oct. 1988 The Federal Aviation Administration approved a $750,000 grant for the Chadron Airport to receive an instrument landing system designed to help prevent airplane crashes such as the one that claimed the lives of two GP Express pilot in December 1987. The equipment was installed in 1989. The Chadron Airport was one of the smallest in the nation to have the system.

Oct. 1988 While speaking at Chadron State, astronaut William Readdy predicted people will be living on the moon and going to Mars in 20 years, but he would not guarantee they would be Americans.

Nov. 1988 Ted Grant of Chadron was one of the first B-1 bomber pilots after the planes were put into operation in 1985. Stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City, Grant said the planes were “so advanced they you can almost talk to it.”

1988 A new brick terminal was constructed at the Chadron Airport.

Jan. 1989 Les Mittleider, owner of L&D Aero at the Chadron Airport, walked away from his badly mangled Cessna 172 about 1.5 miles north of the airport. Mittleider said, “I feel very lucky.”

July 1989 Scott Hare, 36, of Gordon died in an airplane accident about eight miles southeast of Hay Springs where he was spraying crops. He was among the pilots who used their planes to fight the fire at Fort Robinson earlier in the month.

Sept. 1989 Two Chadron men, Mike Hollibaugh and Tim Jamison, were aboard a single-engine airplane that crashed about six miles southwest of Hyannis during a rainstorm. Hollibaugh suffered a broken collarbone, but Jamison was able to walk to the highway to summon assistance. The pilot, Wayne Wilkins of Alliance, also survived.

Sept. 1989 Chadron State science professor Jim McCafferty was the 1989 recipient of the Federal Aviation Administration’s “championship award for excellence in aviation administration” in the region covering Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri for his role in aviation education. Several summers he conducted aerospace education workshops at CSC. In the fall of 1988, he hosted several NASA experts and spacemobiles that visited every Panhandle community. The activities were culminated by a two-day visit by astronaut William Readdy. (Readdy also spoke at CSC in 1988)

May 1996 Great Lakes Aviation replaced GP Express in providing commercial airline passenger service in Chadron.

May 1997 Great Lakes Aviation voluntarily suspended its flights between Chadron and Denver in the wake of safety allegations raised by the Federal Aviation Administration. The flights resumed six weeks later after the aircrafts passed FAA inspection.

Oct. 2015 John Prickett of Double Oak, Texas, died when his Beech P-35 plane collided with trees and terrain south of Chadron shortly after leaving the Chadron Airport at 11:21 a .m. on Oct. 6 en route to Alliance. Neither foul weather nor mechanical failure was believed to be a cause of the crash.

2015-16 One of the main runways at the Chadron Airport was replaced a year-long construction project being in the summer of 2015. The runway is 100 X 6,000 feet and the concrete about a foot thick. Two 35-foot taxiways from the runway to the terminal also were replaced and another taxiway was constructed during the project. The cost of the project was $6 million with 95 percent of it paid for by the federal government (FAA). The city paid the remaining 5 percent, or $300,000.

2017 Boutique Airlines has been held Chadron’s flight service contract for several years, and appears to be flourishing. The airport is busier than ever before. Boutique has three flights coming and going daily from Chadron to Denver. Two of them make stops in Alliance. The passenger boardings the last three months in 2017 were 440 in October, 486 in November and 502 in December. Boutique uses a single-engine plane that has two pilots and room for 8 passengers. The airport receives a federal subsidy to provide flight service to Chadron.

Original article can be found here ➤

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