The Methow Valley State Airport has received a $1.15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to complete expansion of the airport’s west apron to provide additional space for aircraft parking and meet Federal Aviation Administration standards.
The airport completed a $5 million rehabilitation project in July that replaced 22-year-old pavement on the runway.
The state airport, located between Twisp and Winthrop on the East County Road, is home to the North Cascades Smokejumper Base (NCSB). Apron improvements are among issues that need to be addressed to retain the smokejumper base at the airport, according to a report commissioned by the U.S. Forest Service, which operates the smokejumper base.
The report completed last year evaluated the economic feasibility of closing the historic base, which has operated at the Methow Valley State Airport since 1939, and moving smokejumping operations to Wenatchee or Yakima. That analysis was prompted by the need to move three NCSB buildings that are too close to the airport runway, in violation of federal aviation regulations.
NCSB is known as the “birthplace of smokejumping,” because the first experimental jumps by firefighters took place there.
The Methow Valley State Airport is the largest of 16 airports managed by Washington State Department of Transportation, and serves aircraft weighing up to 30,000 pounds.