Military choppers good for summer business at airportAug 29, 2017 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer
Riverton Regional Airport has been busy this season welcoming fleets of helicopters that have stopped in town to refuel.
"Our aviation business has been great this summer - the best in eight years," Jim's Aircraft Service co-owner Wanda Steinhoff said this month. "The economy is picking up."
One flight of helicopters came to Riverton in early August, when Steinhoff said three military Apaches based out of West Jordan, Utah, requested a refueling stop on their way to a base in South Dakota.
"They did some training there and then came back through a week later," Steinhoff said.
Boeing describes its Apaches as "advanced multi-role combat" helicopters used by the U.S. Army and other international defense forces.
Airport manager Paul Griffin said the Apache is a two-person gunship helicopter, as opposed to the Black Hawk "utility helicopters" that are used to carry multiple soldiers.
More than a dozen Black Hawks are scheduled to land Sept. 14 at Riverton Regional to refuel during a training expedition.
"It'll be impressive having all of them on the ramp, shutting down and getting fuel," Griffin said.
In between the military maneuvers, Steinhoff said she also helped a group of huge Chinook choppers that stopped in Riverton for fuel on their way from New York to a fire site in Montana. They ended up spending the night in town due to bad weather, she recalled.
The 99-foot-long Chinooks aren't the only fire-fighting aircraft Steinhoff has seen this summer: She said a crew of aerial firefighters chose Riverton Regional for its base of operations this year.
"They haven't been here in years," she said. "I guess they just try to rotate where they stay to give everyone business."