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Airport History


About the Cheyenne Regional Airport

The success of an airport as well as determining the usage, need, and economic impact is often times very difficult to determine without the use of statistical information. The Cheyenne Regional Airport has been collecting data on the Airport's operations since the mid-1980s as means to use the information as a metric for performance. Below you will find some of the data collected by the Cheyenne Regional Airport Administration Staff, Air Traffic Control Tower, and other sources as cited. If you have any questions regarding this or any other information you can email Airport Administration at info@cheyenneairport.com.

It was back in 1911 that Cheyenne had its first glimpse into the world of aviation. While the aerial demonstration that year during Cheyenne Frontier Days was considered less than impressive, it marked the beginning of what would become a rich aviation history. Throughout the years, Cheyenne’s Airport would not only impact the city’s economy, but its cultural history as well.


The U.S. Post Office gave Cheyenne the first real aviation boost with the introduction of air mail service across the United States from Chicago to San Francisco following World War I. Buck Heffron piloted the first air-mail flight destined for Salt Lake City, UT. The pilot was one of the many brave aviators who took off on daring flights guided only by limited instruments, landmarks, and a few road maps. The Airport served as one of the few destinations along the airmail route, and eventually became the maintenance base for Boeing Air Transport which eventually became United Airlines.

Cheyenne’s airport saw its first commercial passengers take to the skies in the late 1920’s. With the step up to the famous DC-3 aircraft in 1935, passengers enjoyed greater comfort and safety. Soon passengers were flying to both coasts of the U.S. and south to Denver via three major airlines. With the increase in passenger loads, United Airlines decided to add an additional perk to flying by providing steward services aboard their aircraft. At that time, stewardesses were required to be a Registered Nurse and unwed, and all were trained at the Cheyenne Airport. Cheyenne was home to United’s stewardesses training center where the first stewardess was trained. This training occurred through 1961 when the facility was moved back to United’s headquarters in Chicago, IL.


During World War II, the Airport served multiple important functions such as a completion and modification center for the B-17 Flying Fortress, testing and training center for the modifications made to aircraft, and as a flight training center. Plains Airways operated 3 CPT schools for the Army Air Corps during WWII with headquarters at the Cheyenne Airport. Modifications to the gunning turrets and armament were made and calibrated in three facilities, one of which now houses the headquarters of the Wyoming Air National Guard.

Both the flight and ground operations for Plains Airways were managed by W. Dillard "Pic" Walker who was among the first inductees into the Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame (located in the Airport's Terminal). Plains trained more than 5,000 pilots and mechanics for the war effort. Walker also established the Cheyenne Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) as one of the founding members of the organization back in the 1940's (a Civil Air Patrol Uniform from that era is on display in the Terminal).

Ralph S. Johnson was responsible for the engineering and testing of the hundreds of B-17's, B-24's, and PBY's coming through the modification center. The "green" aircraft were flown from the factory into Cheyenne where they were modified with all the armaments and combat equipment, then test flown by Johnson and his crews. Once determined to be fit for flight, the aircraft were delivered to combat units, some based as far away as New Guinea and Australia. Johnson and his crews test flew some 10,000 airplanes during the war.

The Airport was not without its share of celebrated visitors. Famed aviators such as Charles Lindbergh and his “Spirit of St. Louis,” Amelia Earhart, and Capt. Elroy B. “Jepp” Jeppesen were among the few to touch down on its runways over the years. Many of the Airport’s rich historic events are captured and chronicled on display on the walls inside the terminal’s restaurant.

(A special thank you to Billy Walker for his contributions to some of the history detailed.)


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