Submitted by George E. Michael, Town of Haxtun Superintendent
For centuries the romance of flying has lured men to
learn to fly, to thrill to the sight of the earth below them. Many Haxtun
men know this experience.
The present airport was built in 1964 through the efforts
of the Sharpe Brothers, Marlow and Keith, who negotiated the purchase of 12
acres from Gade Harms, located 1 mile east and 1 mile south of Haxtun for
$200 per acre. The runways, leveled and graveled, were laid out so the
north-south and the east-west ran parallel to the nearby county road; thus
on an emergency, a plane could land on the road. The first hangar was built
in 1966. This structure has built onto by other pilots.
In 1966, local gentlemen interested in flying formed the
NCO Aviation Club, Inc. Members included Marlow Sharpe, Curtis Ruch, Fred
Secrist, Howard Meakins, Dennis Firme, Richard Starkebaum, Gary Fuesz, Doug
Ham, Stanley Ham, Jack Dix, Dr. Bowman, and Dick Ash. They purchased a
Taylor Craft, which “ground looped” one evening in a wind which registered
90 mph. It was tied down but flipped over. They purchased other planes. This
corporation dissolved in March 1987.
Dan Young, a wheat farmer, learned to fly from Rex Cox in Holyoke. In 1947, Young
built a runway across the road from his farm home 3 east and 1 mile south of
Haxtun. He built a Quonset to use as a hangar for his two-passenger Cessna.
On Sunday afternoons near-by pilots would fly in.
Pilot Harold Harms and son, Ken and Paoli and Pat Kain,
Haxtun, have runways and hangars to house their planes on their farms. Years
back Ray and Gordon Sipple had a runway on their farm south of Haxtun. Doyle
Neiman and sons, Ed and Dee, flew from their home-located located runway
south of Paoli.
Veylerd Baker became a Certified Flight Instructor in
1975-1982, and taught 15 students who earned their pilot certification from
the Federal Aviation Administration. Among these 15 were two women, Fay
McGuire and Naida Bamford. Mr. Baker, a Certified Commercial Pilot, was also
qualified to fly Chartered Flights.
The local airport has been the base for mercy flights,
Veylerd Baker and Lloyd Ensminger carried blood into Haxtun for emergency
illnesses. Greg Bamford, Damon Koch, and other local pilots have flown
residents to visit seriously ill relatives. Gary Fuesz flew his sister, Mary
Beth Hovel, her husband, Terry, and Nurse Scotch Timm to Greeley one night. Happy result of the
emergency flight was named “Erin Hovel.”
Rev. Ernest Skoog, local Berean Minister, a certified
flight instructor, taught a number of local men to fly.
Kent and Naida
Bamford and Jerry Covey used the Haxtun International many times. Greg
bagged over 2,000 hours of flying time.
Prior to the lighted runway, family members of pilots
would park their motor vehicles into the wind and set their flashing lights
to guide the pilots to a safe landing. The pilot would fly over their home
to alert the family who would drive to the airport.
During the 1965 flood when the
South Platte River Bridge
washed away at Sterling, the Channel 6 TV
Personnel flew to the Haxtun International Airport,
as they named it, and then drove back within six miles of Sterling to perform their communication
Occasionally men who have wheat combine crews in the area
use the Haxtun International. Doctors fly in so they can spend the day
holding clinics at the Hospital.
Rodney Rahe uses the local airport as a base for his
A group of pilots obtained grant money from the
Heginbotham Trust to improve the airport with runway lights, making it much
safer to land after dark. In 1986, the Town of
resurfaced the east-west runway.
A tragic incident involved Harold Jessen and Harold
Cheney who flew from this airport on May 2, 1949, to attend a Fly-In in Colorado Springs. They
encountered storm conditions and crashed. Both men were killed.
In the late 1930s, Ira Bortles, who lived southwest of
Haxtun, owned his own plane. He would phone Glenn Jones, the Haxtun Texaco
Gas Dealer, and Glenn would load the specified number and kind gasoline on
his tank truck and drive 1 east and 1 mile south of Haxtun to the landing
field in Axel Johnson’s natural sod pasture where Bortles would land:
He would fill the plane’s gas tank. This land was northwest from the
present airport. Other pilots used this firm sod for landing, too.
Phillips County Zoning regulations prohibit houses to be
built within ˝ mile any direction from the airport as a safety factor.
Having a good safe airport near Haxtun gives residents
and visitors a chance to travel quickly on business or pleasure.