The runway at the Rifle Garfield County Airport.

County approves hangar concept plan modification

Dark Horse Aviation intends to construct two new aircraft hangars at the airport

March 17, 2023

Garfield County has approved an updated concept plan from Dark Horse Aviation to construct two large hangars at the Rifle Garfield County Airport. The Board of County Commissioners accepted the revised concept plan submitted by Dark Horse Aviation, which is constructing two new hangars proposed at 49,000 square feet (parcel A-2) and another of approximately 40,000 sq. ft. (parcels A-5 and 6).

“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 the many that will be coming before the commissioners,” said Rifle Garfield County Airport Director Brian Condie.

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 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.

“I began flying airplanes before I knew how to drive a car, so I have a unique background,” he said. “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. “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.”

“Things are going to start popping off at the airport and I’m glad to see this,” said Commissioner Mike Samson. “The airport is a major economic driver for Garfield County, and I’m excited to see this finally get going.”

The updated concept plan was approved unanimously, 3-0.

Updated development guide allows for smooth navigation of leasing process
The board also approved an updated airport development guide, which outlines the rules, regulations, requirements, and applications procedures at the airport. 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 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