Last August, when a newborn baby needed life-saving treatment available only at a Front Range hospital, an air ambulance took off headed for Delta's Blake Field.
The baby was transported and, according to reports from airport managers Mark and Cheryl Husmann, a little life was saved by the mission.
Critical care air ambulance flights that transfer patients from Delta's Blake Field to medical care available only at Front Range hospitals are not an infrequent occurrence, the Husmanns explain. The lighted canopy at Blake's aviation fuel island provides late night illumination that medical crews say they appreciate, and that they don't find at other general aviation airports.
The life-saving air ambulance activities, which take place almost weekly, are among the services and facilities that have been enhanced at Blake's Field since the Husmanns became airport managers here in 2005.
"There are people in Delta County who say they didn't even know there was an airport in Delta," remarks Cheryl. "But we would like the public to know about the kinds of services that are available here." The Husmanns are proud that improvements they have added to Blake Field are making an economic contribution to the community.
For example, the Beechcraft King Air twin turboprop that landed in August on the life-saving flight could have, if needed, tanked up with a load of jet-A fuel for the return trip. A newly installed jet-A fueling facility will allow the airport to increase services and operations to a class of aircraft that have been rare visitors to Delta in the past, said Mark.
When most people think of an airport they probably have an image of a commercial facility with scheduled passenger flights in and out. Blake Field is a general aviation airport. It is fully certified and approved in all facilities and operational aspects by the Federal Aviation Administration, but Blake doesn't have scheduled commercial passenger service. The Delta airport is used by the public and by companies to house, maintain and fly their privately owned aircraft. The North Fork airport at Stewart Mesa is the other general aviation airport facility in Delta County.
The ability to serve aircraft that fight wildfires is an important responsibility in the aviation business here. Blake's brand new jet-A fueling depot will provide that service to various types of jet-powered aircraft used in fighting wildfires. In addition, a new, two-inch-diameter, high pressure, high-volume water hydrant will provide water tank refilling in a fraction of the time needed before.
When the Husmanns, with a growing family with two young boys, took to the wings of opportunity in 2005 and became airport managers, they also built a large maintenance hangar and set up an expanded fixed base operator (FBO) business that serves pilots at Delta and throughout the region. One son is now at Colorado School of Mines and the other is a senior at Delta High School.
Finding success in family and business has been the biggest part of the Husmanns' journey since coming here from Montrose. They've also enjoyed "meeting and working with, just all the great people" they have had the chance to deal with.
There has been significant growth at Blake field since 2005. The west hangar apron is almost full with only three or four spaces left for construction of new hangars. A long-term plan includes opening a new hangar apron on the east side of the field for another 20 to 30 hangars in the future, Mark said. Ten additional outdoor tie-downs have been installed on a ramp addition north of the FBO hangar.
One year ago the Husmanns completed installation on one of the most important improvements to Blake's flight operations, and one that Mark says will provide a foundation for future economic development for the community. It is a system that provides full instrument landing approach capability for today's high-end private aircraft.
Mark explains that companies which provide insurance coverage for these costly jet engine airplanes will not allow them to be landed at an airport unless it provides full instrument approach capability.
With full instrument landing capabilities and the availability of jet-A fuel, Blake Field can attract a new and higher class of aircraft that are being flown into Delta by people interested in working, playing and investing the community.
Other services available to the aviation-minded public at Blake field include flight instruction, pilot's licenses, scenic flights, search and rescue support, and high octane aviation fuel for other types of engine applications.
Future plans for Blake Field are displayed on two, full color map/schematics that hang on the wall in the airport office.
The airport has lots of room to expand to the east where the county has recently purchased additional acreage that will be available when needed.
There are also plans to construct an important safety enhancement for the airport. A cross-wind dirt runway scheduled for construction in 2017 will provide a safe alternative for pilots when landing lower powered aircraft in high wind conditions that could make a main runway landing attempt tricky.
The cross-wind runway will come in especially handy in 2019 when another big airport improvement, resurfacing the main runway, is scheduled to take place. The cross-wind runway will serve as a temporary main landing strip for local pilots while the nearly-mile-long main runway is reworked. The resurfacing is required periodically by Federal Aviation Administration regulations. The federal and state government provide grants for most of the improvements at Blake Field.