May 14, 2019
Two Chicago-area general aviation (GA) airports with significant business aviation operations were recently lauded for their work to remain open and operating safely through a particularly brutal 2018-2019 winter season, which brought lake-effect snowfall and record low temperatures to the region.
Presented annually for more than 40 years, the Balchen/Post Awards recognize the efforts by snow crews at commercial, GA and military airports to maintain their facilities. Chicago Executive Airport (PWK) near Wheeling, IL earned top honors in the Large GA Airport category for 2019 and Indiana’s Gary/Chicago International Airport (GYY) earned the same award for Small GA airports.
The Northeast Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives (NEC/AAAE) administers the award, with winners selected by a committee on which NBAA plays an active role.
“The Balchen/Post Awards highlight the work of airport staff to ensure their passengers may continue flying safely in adverse winter weather conditions,” said Alex Gertsen, NBAA director of airports and ground infrastructure. “GA airports that persevere to stay open, with fewer resources to battle snow and ice compared to larger commercial facilities, deserve particular recognition.”
Airports detail their winter operations plans as part of the application process, with facilities offering commercial airline service also queried about their efforts to keep GA ramps and routes accessible to affirm that equal priority is given to scheduled and non-scheduled operations.
“Business aviation pilots and passengers depend on airport crews to ensure that airport surfaces are cleared for their on-schedule departures and for assuring their return home, even if these occur during the most intense part of a storm,” Gertsen said. “Airport users may acknowledge the determination it takes to keep their businesses flying in winter weather by recommending an airport that goes above and beyond.”
Centennial Airport (APA) near Denver, CO, and Seattle’s King County International Airport/Boeing Field (BFI) received Honorable Mentions in the Large GA category, and Indy South Greenwood Airport (HFY) in the Small GA category.