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Oil boom giving small N.D. airports a boost


Weydahl Field in remote Killdeer, N.D., used to get only 90 flights per year to its 4,200-foot runway, and there's no fuel available. But thanks to a boom in oil and natural gas drilling, the airport now has as many as 20 operations per day, even though the airport has been closed by NOTAM since the city and county stopped maintaining it. But for energy companies that need to get parts and workers to far-flung drilling sites, using small airstrips like Weydahl can save 100 miles of driving each way from larger airports in the state. The sudden uptick in traffic has local airport officials across the state taking on big improvement projects: widening and lengthening runways, adding FBO facilities and hangars, and installing fuel tanks. Weydahl Field, which officials plan to reopen in about six months, can only handle aircraft up to 5,000 pounds, but a runway project would dramatically increase that limit, letting many turboprops and small jets use the field.