Mile High: Butte’s Bert Mooney Airport

 In Butte, Facilities and Services

With easy accessibility by rail, road and air, Butte is the perfect location for your business. The southwestern Montana city sits at the intersection of two major interstates, connecting it to every city along the way — as well as their respective airports and other resources. Boasting the sole stop in Montana on the Union Pacific Railroad, Butte’s location is also advantageous for those companies distributing goods by rail.

A New, Modern Airport Terminal

Exterior of Bert Mooney Airport in Butte, MT, on a sunny day, featuring steel framework as a tribute to the city's history of mining.

As far as distribution by air goes, we at Montana Connections have some exciting information to share: Bert Mooney Airport, Butte’s local airfield with twice-daily direct flights to Salt Lake City, has recently opened a brand-new passenger terminal. At almost 41,000 square feet, the new addition was designed to reflect the rich history of the Butte area in addition to providing modern amenities required by today’s travelers. Each terminal room features dark steel bars as a means of support and a nod to the city’s roots in mining. Light-wood accent walls leave airport visitors with a sense of rustic, western style, perfect for an airport located in the heart of the Rockies.

Project architects and engineers at The KPA Group, a California-based firm headed by Butte native Paul Powers, report that, “a passenger’s journey from the front doors of the terminal to the aircraft is sure to be enticed with historic value and ease of circulation.”

In addition to a new, grand entrance, baggage claim area and holdroom, the 18-month project featured a variety of new amenities, including car rental operations, concessions at the Ore Cart Restaurant and airport administration areas. Airport officials are currently working to recruit new airlines to bolster the terminal flight schedule, so locals and visitors alike can expect more growth in the coming years.

Bert Mooney is the only airport in the state that offers free parking for ticket passengers, making it an ideal homebase airport for Butte companies that require frequent travel.

A City and Airport Rich in History

Bert Mooney Airport first opened its doors in 1927 as the Butte National Airport; like its original city namesake, the airport has a spirited history. Famous passengers, including Charles Lindbergh and several US presidents, have flown into Butte — one hangar on the airfield, named “Spirit of St. Louis” after Lindbergh’s famous plane, is a recently-renovated gathering spot for community members to learn about aviation.

The airport assumed its current name in 1972, honoring local aviator Bert Mooney. Mooney was the chief pilot for Western Air Express (Western Airlines, now part of Delta Air Lines) and also flew the first airmail flight into Yellowstone National Park.

More Than Just an Airfield

Today, the hangars of Bert Mooney Airport are home to several businesses in addition to airport facilities. Butte Aviation, southwestern Montana’s premier fixed-base operator (FBO), provides flights with high-quality aeronautical services such as fueling, flight instruction, aircraft ground handling and catering. But the businesses aren’t all exclusively flight-related: Certified training company The Peak, Inc. offers a variety of courses designed to teach survival in extreme, high-altitude conditions.

Much like the city it resides in, Bert Mooney has great potential for growth and expansion in the future. In recent years, the Airport Authority Board at Bert Mooney has made strides in sustainability, establishing a comprehensive, long-term sustainability plan funded by the Federal Aviation Administration. For now, residents can get anywhere by first taking a regular Delta Air Lines flight to air hub SLC International Airport — but as businesses continue to move to Butte and the city’s economy grows, Butte locals will begin to notice more and more improvements to the airport and their everyday lives.

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Courtesy of Yellowstone National Park: Street in downtown Butte, Montana, lined with buildings and leading to the richest building in Butte.Man sips craft beer from the glass at a crowded brewery