Spearfish looking into alternative crosswind runway

Pictured in the forground is a grass runway at the Black Hills Airport that will be the focus of a new study assessing the site as a crosswind runway. Pioneer photo by Alex Portal

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SPEARFISH — The Spearfish City Council approved Mayor Dana Boke and City Attorney Ashley McDonald to sign a $228,000 grant agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct miscellaneous studies to develop alternative crosswind runway options for the Black Hills Airport/Clyde Ice Field.

In 2017, Boke signed a similar grant agreement between the city and the FAA to research airport improvements. That research concluded that the proposed new runway would interfere with areas of cultural significance to local tribal nations. The city is still looking into ways of mitigating the runway’s interference, but in the meantime, will be moving forward with developing a plan B.

“We’re not done with the original plan,” said Public Works Director Dustin Lee. “We’re doing our due diligence, though, and we’re continuing with other methods of getting an acceptable crosswind runway that isn’t a true crosswind runway.”

Lee explained that the original plan for the crosswind runway called for it to intersect with the current runway, allowing aircraft approaching from the northeast or southwest as well.

“As a pilot, the more runway options you have, the more apt you are to plan that as your primary destination,” he said.

The secondary location being looked at by the FAA is currently used as a grass landing strip adjacent to Interstate 90.

“It doesn’t have the prevailing winds that the other runway would have, so it wouldn’t be as ideal,” Lee explained. “But it would still give us a decent alternative.”

Lee said regardless of where the new runway ends up, he’s confident that the airfield will see some major growth in the near future.

“We’ve invested a lot of time and energy and it’s the direction that the city wants to take this,” he said. “I would be surprised if it didn’t come to fruition.”

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