Colorado Air and Space Port
|Operator||Colorado Air and Space Port|
|Serves||Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area|
|Location||Adams County, Colorado|
|Elevation AMSL||5,512 ft / 1,680 m|
Location of airport in Colorado / United States
CFO (the United States)
Colorado Air and Space Port (ICAO: KCFO, FAA LID: CFO), formerly known as Front Range Airport, is a public airport located in unincorporated Adams County, Colorado, in the United States, adjacent to Aurora and three miles (4.8 km) southeast of Denver International Airport. It was owned by the Front Range Airport Authority, until January 2014 when the airport and all its employees merged with Adams County and became its department. Colorado Air and Space Port serves the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area. The postal designation of Watkins, a nearby unincorporated community, is used in the airport's mailing address.
Colorado Air and Space Port is a small general aviation airport, although increased demand has warranted several expansion programs in recent years. Until 2005 it was a non-towered airport without air traffic control (ATC) services when the tallest general aviation control tower in the United States (191 ft) was opened along with full ATC services. Currently, the airport serves as the base of a few flying schools, flight clubs, maintenance services, and air rescue training facilities. Due to its location on the flat plains of eastern Colorado, as well as generally cheaper aircraft rental rates, it is a very popular airport for both flight training and recreational flights. It is also popular among owners and pilots of kit-built aircraft, and the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) has a very strong presence at Colorado Air and Space Port, which frequently hosts the EAA Young Eagles Rallies.
After 19 years as airport director, Dennis Heap and the airport board parted ways in August 2013. Heap was replaced in the late spring of 2014 by Dave Ruppel. Shortly afterwards, the Front Range Airport Authority was dissolved and the airport and all employees were folded into[clarification needed] Adams County on January 1, 2014. Since then, the airport has seen a marked improvement in general aviation, air-taxi, military traffic as well as other air-based businesses, Such as the helicopter-based businesses of Air Methods. As well as [needs update]
For the 12-month ending December 31, 2005, the airport had 94,625 aircraft operations, an average of 259 per day: 99% general aviation, 1% air taxi and <1% military. There are 396 aircraft based at this airport: 84% single-engine, 11% multi-engine, 4% ultralight, 1% helicopters and <1% jet aircraft.
In October 2011, the Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, formally requested that the federal government designate Colorado a "spaceport state" and that the airport be designated a spaceport for suborbital horizontal takeoff flights (HTVL and HTHL). Spaceport designation would allow a facility offering suborbital tourism, travel, and cargo transport from one point to another on Earth. The Denver Post reported that "No vertical launches are planned at the Front Range, unlike most of the other eight certified U.S. spaceports. Instead, space planes — an emerging technology — will use regular runways and jet engines to take off and land, switching to rocket power above 50,000 feet."
Media sources have suggested that the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser spaceplane may be used for suborbital spaceflights and that Colorado Air and Space Port may prove to be the preferred location, over Spaceport America in New Mexico.
As of May 2012[update], news reports indicate that the Colorado Air and Space Port proposal is gaining traction with political interests at the state and federal levels as well as with industry participants. One of those commercial interests was XCOR Aerospace, which was considering Spaceport Colorado as a candidate for HTHL operations with their Lynx rocketplane. However, XCOR announced in July 2012 that they would be moving their company headquarters and research and development activities to Texas, in part due to a significant set of financial incentives (US$10,000,000) offered to XCOR by the Midland Development Corporation (MDC) and the Midland City Council.
As of April 2012[update], Colorado state law "grants limited liability to spaceflight companies, allowing spaceflight participants who sign waiver forms to sue only if they are injured or killed as a result of a firm’s 'willful or wanton disregard' for safety."