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Dunn County Airport hangar destroyed, planes overturned

This photo taken Tuesday morning and submitted by reader Nikki Spethman shows the damage at Weydahl Field, the Dunn County Airport, where the hanger has been destroyed and airplanes are overturned.1 / 2
Press Photo by Betsy Simon An airplane that was overturned by wind sits upside down at the Weydahl Field Dunn County Airport, where the hangar was also destroyed.2 / 2

One of the more shocking scenes in the aftermath of Monday evening's storm in Dunn County was the damage to Weydahl Field, commonly known as the Dunn County Airport on the north side of Killdeer.

The airport, which has seen a surge in usage because of oil activity in the area and was in the process of being improved, suffered a huge setback Monday when winds that reached up to 85 mph, overturning airplanes and completely destroying the hangar, leaving only the terminal intact.

"I think it's a real tragedy because the people that own those airplanes have helped tremendously in the effort to help rebuild the hangar and the whole airport in general," said Mike Schollmeyer, the vice chairman of the Dunn County Airport Authority. "It's a lot of hard work that just got blown away. I feel really bad for everybody that's put so much time in up there."

Pilots have still been landing at the airport regularly despite part of the runway being torn up, speaking to its need as the area continues to grow because of oil drilling in the Bakken and Three Forks shale formations.

Jason Hutchinson, the Airport Authority's treasurer, said he didn't even get out of his vehicle Tuesday morning as he went to see the damage at the airport along Highway 22.

He saw all he needed to see from the road.

"We're working hard to get it open and this is just kind of another setback," Hutchinson said. "It wasn't much of a hangar to begin with, but it was something."

Hutchinson said at least three airplanes were in the hangar when it was destroyed by the storm.

Schollmeyer agreed with Hutchinson, saying the hangar had "outlived its usefulness."

"People were really trying to make do with what we had to work with until we could get something better," he said.

Schollmeyer's father Clarence was named chairman of the Airport Authority in August 2012 and was the man who pushed for the county to pursue reopening the airport. He died Nov. 1 due to injuries sustained after his Cessna 320 Skynight crashed near San Marcos, Texas.

Mike Schollmeyer said there are no plans to abandon the work already accomplished at the airport, despite Monday's damages, adding that the Airport Authority already has plans to open the runway in 45 days.

He said the plan is clean up debris at the airport all day Saturday, adding that all volunteers wanting to help are welcome.

"This isn't going to slow us down much," he said. "We're still going to patch the runway and get the airport up and functioning again. Plans are in the works for a hangar and infrastructure out there regardless. ... A lot of man hours went into to getting that thing up and running again."

Dustin Monke

Monke came to The Dickinson Press in July 2006 as the newspaper's sports editor and was hired as its managing editor in March 2013. During his tenure at The Press, Monke has won multiple awards for sports reporting, feature reporting, column writing, page design and photography. He was a key part of The Press winning the North Dakota Newspaper Association's General Excellence and Sweepstakes awards in 2009 and 2012, and oversaw The Press' Sweepstakes and General Excellence wins in 2014, as well as its national first-place honors for Community Leadership in the Inland Daily Press Association and contributed to the first-place Inland award for Investigative Reporting. As the newspaper's editor, he writes an occasional Sunday column, is a member of The Press' Editorial Board, contributes feature stories and breaking news, designs pages, and oversees the day-to-day operations of the newsroom and editorial staff. In his free time, he enjoys watching sports and action movies, exercises whenever his schedule allows, and spends every minute he can with his wife and son.

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