Changes on the Horizon for the Crystal Airport
Changes are on the horizon for the Crystal Airport.
The general aviation airport is one of six “reliever” airports in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro that helps reduce congestion at the MSP International Airport.
Each year, almost 37,000 planes take off or land at the Crystal Airport. That’s 100 planes a day coming to the area for business or for pleasure.
“I live south of Charlotte [North Carolina], but my mom lives in Robbinsdale,” says Craig Drake, after flying into the Crystal Airport to visit his mother. ” I usually fly back for her birthday in April, but your weather was so nasty here. We decided to delay it a few weeks.”
The Crystal Airport is the most convenient for many pilots like Drake. “For small airplanes, why it’s great,” says Drake.
For the local economy, a smaller reliever airport such as Crystal can have an outsized impact.
“The economic output of the airport is roughly $71 million dollars,” says Philip Tiedeman, the airport manager.
That includes 100 jobs on site from flight instructors and air traffic controllers to mechanics and the airport manager.
Changes Ahead at the Crystal Airport
Just like any business operation, the Crystal Airport experiences change. “Probably two decades ago, we were at the heyday of the airport, basically,” says Tiedeman. “Since then, the traffic has changed from the small piston aircraft to larger reciprocating aircrafts, turbo props and jets, and rotorcrafts operate out of here”
It means construction could be on the horizon in the years ahead. Changes would right size the airport from four runways down to three, creating space for a taxiway and future development. The metro area’s only grass landing strip would remain at the Crystal Airport.
“I expect it [the airport] to be here for a long time, and we’ve done some great things in the past, but I’m eager to see where we can take it,” says Tiedeman.
Each day, the metro area’s six reliever airports accommodate almost 900 takeoffs and landings. Those flights would otherwise add to the daily congestion at MSP International.
For pilots like Craig Drake, flying into the Crystal Airport provides a smooth landing.
“These things are treasures,” says Drake of reliever airports. “I would just really like to see them preserved and used.”
The public can watch airplanes takeoff and land at a special open house and fly-in coming up at the Crystal Airport on Sunday, June 17.