The Colorado Pilots Association designated the North Fork Valley Airport in Paonia as the outstanding general aviation airport in the state for 2012. The award was announced at the association’s annual meeting on Nov. 10.
The association gives the recognition based on its members’ flying experiences and recommendations “of those Colorado airports that have gone out of their way to provide exceptional services and facilities for general aviation.”
“It’s a hard-earned award. I’m going to step back in time and give my parents credit for starting the business. I just carried on where they left off,” airport manager Mike Clawson said.
“I think the courtesy car and the full-time attention at the airport have made a big difference. It’s pretty astounding since there are only two of these awarded each year in the state. For Paonia to get one of those is pretty outstanding. It takes a community effort. It takes everyone as a whole to make it happen,” he said.
The North Fork Valley Airport is owned by the Town of Paonia and Delta County.
“The airport is an asset for the community,” Mayor Neal Schwieterman said. “The town and the county work together but it’s the service they provide here — good, hometown service and good prices, and there isn’t a soul around who doesn’t want those.”
The mayor added, “Our community has a lot of cool things happening right now. We have the art center in Hotchkiss. We have the art center in Paonia. We have the Mountain Harvest Festival. We have all these different activities, and it’s starting to be noticed by different people and they are flying in here. They are enjoying those activities.”
The airport has a courtesy car so those who fly in can drive to their location. Camping is also available at the airport for those who fly in and want to spend the night.
The airport was nominated by Rod Kauber, an association member. He wrote, “North Fork Airport is an exceptional airport, located in a very picturesque valley between Hotchkiss and Paonia. It is exceptionally maintained and offers the lowest fuel prices in the area. It is a fun and beautiful place to fly into because of its unique setting on a mesa surrounded by farms and orchards. Mike Clawson is the airport manager. He lives on the premise and is the most friendly and accommodating person you could ever ask for. He always has a smile and cannot do enough to make your visit a great experience. Call ahead and he will make certain that a crew car is waiting for you, or more than one if needed.”
The airport has numerous “five star” postings on AirNav.com for its exceptional service.
The Colorado Pilots Association is a statewide organization with over 700 members “dedicated to making Colorado a better, safer, and more desirable place to fly. Objectives of the organization are to promote general aviation, flying safety, protect the rights of the flying community, and to provide information and assistance to the general public in aviation matters.”Delta County Independent