Aviation company proposes adding two large hangars at Rifle Garfield County Airport

A plane parked on the tarmac at Rifle Garfield County Airport earlier this year.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

A private aviation company looks to build two new large hangars at the Rifle Garfield County Airport, the county announced in a recent news release.

Dark Horse Aviation is proposing to construct a 49,000 square-foot hangar at parcel A-2 and another 40,000 square-foot hangar at parcels A-5 and 6. Garfield County commissioners unanimously accepted the revised concept plan submitted by Dark Horse, the release states.

“Commissioner Samson said once we get the new development guide approved, we’ll have lots of developers coming to the airport to build, and I think this is just one of many that will be coming before the commissioners,” Rifle Garfield County Airport Director Brian Condie said in the release.

Dark Horse asked to proceed with its original request to lease airport parcels A-5 and A-6, allowing for the construction of larger hangars at the airport, the release states. The proposal noted that Dark Horse was determining how to maximize its investment at the airport over the 40-year land lease. The lease rate for the property (parcel A-2 is 117,000 sq. ft., while A-5 and A-6 combine for 170,000 sq. ft.) was estimated at $83,867 annually.

Ryan Maxfield, executive VP of business development for Dark Horse Aviation, told the board that the design of the Rifle Garfield County Airport and ample ramp room makes it a reliable destination for pilots flying into the area, the release states.

“I began flying airplanes before I knew how to drive a car, so I have a unique background,” he said in the release. “I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to have flown into Eagle, Aspen, Telluride and Rifle, and you guys have one heck of an airport, and you should be very proud. In my mind, from a pilot’s perspective, Rifle’s always been a sure bet. … It’s a safe alternate, even if you’re not coming here in the first place.”

Maxfield added that the company’s investment at the airport “is at a minimum, $12.5 million.”

“We recognize that at an airport like this, once you build something, you’re really married to it. It’s there forever,” he said in the release. “We also recognize that, ultimately, this land, however it’s developed, reverts back to the county. So, we’re very proud and excited about the proposal we plan to put into the ground there, and hopefully, we can get started sooner than later.”

Commissioner Mike Samson said things are going to start popping off at the airport, and that he’s “glad to see this.”

“The airport is a major economic driver for Garfield County, and I’m excited to see this finally get going,” he said in the release.

Updated development guide

The board also approved an updated airport development guide, which outlines the rules, regulations, requirements and applications procedures at the airport, the release states. The updated airport development guide has identified four different development areas in which leasing may occur and moved the design review fee process in front of the construction phase.

Rifle Garfield County Airport staff, Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management Unit, Armstrong Consulting, Tectonic Management Group aviation architectural firm, airport users and tenants, among others, Condie said.

“It was important to include everybody’s input and work from throughout the process,” he told the board. “We will review this development guide again each October and make some fine-tuned change, but the basic document is good to go.”

The updated airport development guide was approved unanimously, 3-0. It can be read online at

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