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Cut Bank International Airport: A True Montana Treasure, Past and Present




The Past

Cut Bank International Airport, located 3 miles southwest of Cut Bank, Montana, is a historical treasure and a present-day asset. Around 1918 as pilots were returning home from World War I, oil was discovered in the Kevin Field north of Cut Bank and communities in the area began to thrive. A group of forward-thinking residents, led by area dentist Dr. C.H. Minette, realized there was a need for a private and commercial aviation facility. Land was initially leased or purchased from Blackfeet Tribal members, and in 1930 the current site was selected. On June 1, 1941, Western Airlines began offering commercial flights, landing a Douglas DC-3 on a grass strip. Thousands came to celebrate the momentous event. By 1942 the entire area encompassing the airport district was purchased from Tribal members and became the Cut Bank Army Air Base.


Following the Declaration of War in December 1941, Cut Bank joined Glasgow and Lewistown, serving as a satellite base for the Great Falls Army Air Base. Construction of the base was authorized on July 6, 1942, and troops began training at the Cut Bank airfield in November 1942. Crews manning the B-17 Flying Fortress trained on the two runways, learning navigation and bombing techniques before joining the war effort on the European Front. The last crew training at the base departed in October 1943, and the base was placed on inactive status for the remainder of the war. By 1948, most of the base property, including its buildings, was transferred to the City of Cut Bank and Glacier County. By the mid-1950s most of the buildings and equipment were salvaged and only a small group of structures remained. Western Airlines discontinued its services in the late 1960s.


In 2007 both the Cut Bank International Airport and the Army Air Base were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Additionally, the entire 1,750-acre area is now designated as a Historic District. The 120’x60’ hangar, built in 1942-43 of concrete and wood, is a beautiful and imposing structure. It was extensively renovated in 2009 and events are occasionally hosted there. Several of the other existing structures are currently undergoing restoration and repair. The Airmen’s Memorial Museum includes an extensive history of the base and its crews, as well as communication-related items. You can get additional information about the museum and the airport or arrange a tour by calling Ray at 406-450-1078.


The Present

The Cut Bank International Airport continues to play an important role in the community. In 2011, it was awarded the MDT Aeronautics Division Airport of the Year. The two concrete runways are each 75 feet wide and 5,300 feet long. Annually the airport experiences nearly 5,800 aircraft operations. As a result, the airport contributes a considerable economic impact to the area. Fuel services are offered 24/7 (100LL and Jet A fuels with priss) with both self-service and full-service options. All airport services are available on a full-time/callout basis. Other amenities include free courtesy vehicles, outdoor camping spaces (no hook-ups), a pilot lounge, wifi, and two sleeping rooms. Ramp tie downs and hangar space are usually available. For aircraft returning to the US, Customs services are available with a two-hour callout notice. For aircraft entering Canada, arrangements must be made through Canadian customs.


A historical treasure and a present-day asset, the Cut Bank International Airport enhances the lives of residents and visitors alike. I’m planning my own tour soon since I want to be more diligent about getting to know my community. I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity, too.  Learn more at cutbankairport.org.


Regards,

Lisa Cline

Proud Community Member

Co-owner/Manager, Marketplace on Main

Cut Bank, MT

 





 



 

 

 

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