A Closed Runway, Air Tankers Make For Busy Days At Boise Airport

Aug 15, 2012

This time of year is typically the busiest for the Boise Airport. Commercial flights compete with air tankers being used to fight wildfires to get off the ground. And with the thick smoke around Boise, air traffic controllers have to take extra steps to keep flights safe.

Gordon Stewart manages Boise Airport’s Air Traffic Control. Lately, that room has been crazy.

“Overall, it’s kind of a balancing act and I think that, by and large, we make it work,” Stewart says.

But there’s another challenge. Only one of Boise’s two landing strips is open. The other closed last week to get resurfaced, and will not open again for a few more weeks.

That means that all the extra traffic now shares one runway.

And the giant air tankers that use the runway suck debris onto it. So after every DC-10 that takes off, the runway must be swept. This causes another delay.

But Stewart says delays to passengers have been slight. And Stewart is proud of his crew. “Well I think everybody’s working hard right now. But yeah, I have the utmost respect for the people who work for me, they do a great job,” Stewart says.

Stewart says the extra work load is worth it if it means keeping Idaho’s wildfires under control.

Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio