First aircraft lands on Offutt Air Force Base’s newly constructed runway
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — After final touches were added through the week, Offutt Air Force Base’s runway reopened Friday after 18 months of construction.
The reopening ceremony welcomed the Air Force’s 55th Wing back to the base, and wing commander Col. Kristen Thompson landed the the first aircraft on the runway since construction began.
Sen. Deb Fischer and Rep. Don Bacon attended the reopening ceremony. Fischer had been involved in the project since 2013, helping to secure the $168.9 million needed for the reconstruction.
“This is an important day for the community, for Nebraska, and for our nation’s security,” Fischer said in a press release. “Getting the Offutt runway from a state of disrepair in 2013 to today’s new runway took a lot of determination and collaboration with a variety of stakeholders.”
Crews worked to replace the base’s runway and mass parking apron after it was determined that a full replacement was needed to meet mission requirements.
“We programmed a repair for 2015 as soon as the 2006 project was completed, as that didn’t cover the full scope of what was needed,” said Bruce McCauley, directory of the 55th Wing’s Civil Engineer Squadron. “Around 2012, the discussions on the scope of the project started, and that took until around 2018 to finalize.”
A construction contract was awarded in June 2020, with construction beginning on March 1, 2021.
As a stop-gap for operations, 25 million pounds of equipment were taken from the base to Lincoln, with flights running through the Lincoln Airport for 18 months.
In total, Offutt reports that its staff traveled 1.2 million miles over 19,000 bus trips to Lincoln to keep operations going.
Regular flying operations are scheduled to resume on Monday.