Westjet Air Center, Inc has opened its new US$1m FBO facility at Rapid City Regional Airport in South Dakota with a grand opening ceremony held on Friday October 9.
The new building resembles a luxury home or high-end hotel, with a stone exterior and copper ceilings. It boasts a state-of-the-art flight-planning center, pilot’s lounge, private sleeping quarters, well-stocked vending area, and a children’s room built to cater to traveling families.
Owners Don and Linda Rydstrom, both retired commercial pilots with more than 16,000 hours of flight time, took the opportunity to build a new FBO facility that caters to their aviation customers’ wants and needs.
“Our daughter grew up in aviation,” said Linda. “I used to fly with her a lot and it was so nice when an FBO had a children’s area. Today I see more and more families flying together so we prioritized creating a children’s play room to really cater to this need.”
The Rydstrom’s daughter, Miranda, is slated to take over the family-run business within the next 8-10 years. Following in her parent’s footsteps, she works as a commercial pilot and certified flight instructor. She and her fiancé have begun renovations to Westjet’s previous facility with plans to open a flight school by the first of the year, and expand the FBO’s maintenance area and office space.
Westjet has been a Phillips 66 Aviation dealer for 58 years, well before Don purchased the FBO in 1978. The company recently resigned its fuel contact with Phillips 66, simultaneously increasing its fuel storage capacity to 88,000 gallons of jet fuel and 20,000 gallons of avgas.
“We’ve had a phenomenal working relationship with Phillips 66 since day one,” said Don. “Phillips has gone out of their way for us especially during this year’s 75th annual Sturgis motorcycle rally. We opened our doors to our new facility just days before the event. During this time, we were so busy with additional traffic that Phillips was hauling fuel from Chicago and Texas; really wherever it took to get us the additional fuel. For us, that’s a big deal because we know without a doubt that we’re going to have the fuel supply we need.”
The celebratory Westjet grand opening event on Friday, October 9 included a ribbon cutting ceremony with invited guests including Governor Dennis Daugaard, Mayor Steve Allender, the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce, the Rapid City Regional Airport board, Phillips 66 Aviation, Westjet’s loyal and valued customers, as well as the subcontractors who helped construct the new FBO facility.
October 14, 2015