One of the more shocking scenes in the aftermath of Monday evening’s storm in Dunn County was the damage to Weydahl Field, commonly known as the Dunn County Airport on the north side of Killdeer.
The airport, which has seen a surge in usage because of oil activity in the area and was in the process of being improved, suffered a huge setback Monday when winds that reached up to 85 mph, overturning airplanes and completely destroying the hangar, leaving only the terminal intact.
“I think it’s a real tragedy because the people that own those airplanes have helped tremendously in the effort to help rebuild the hangar and the whole airport in general,” said Mike Schollmeyer, the vice chairman of the Dunn County Airport Authority. “It’s a lot of hard work that just got blown away. I feel really bad for everybody that’s put so much time in up there.”
Pilots have still been landing at the airport regularly despite part of the runway being torn up, speaking to its need as the area continues to grow because of oil drilling in the Bakken and Three Forks shale formations.
Jason Hutchinson, the Airport Authority’s treasurer, said he didn’t even get out of his vehicle Tuesday morning as he went to see the damage at the airport along Highway 22.
He saw all he needed to see from the road.
“We’re working hard to get it open and this is just kind of another setback,” Hutchinson said. “It wasn’t much of a hangar to begin with, but it was something.”
Hutchinson said at least three airplanes were in the hangar when it was destroyed by the storm.
Schollmeyer agreed with Hutchinson, saying the hangar had “outlived its usefulness.”
“People were really trying to make do with what we had to work with until we could get something better,” he said.
Schollmeyer’s father Clarence was named chairman of the Airport Authority in August 2012 and was the man who pushed for the county to pursue reopening the airport. He died Nov. 1 due to injuries sustained after his Cessna 320 Skynight crashed near San Marcos, Texas.
Mike Schollmeyer said there are no plans to abandon the work already accomplished at the airport, despite Monday’s damages, adding that the Airport Authority already has plans to open the runway in 45 days.
He said the plan is clean up debris at the airport all day Saturday, adding that all volunteers wanting to help are welcome.
“This isn’t going to slow us down much,” he said. “We’re still going to patch the runway and get the airport up and functioning again. Plans are in the works for a hangar and infrastructure out there regardless. … A lot of man hours went into to getting that thing up and running again.”