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Grand Forks Airport celebrates 50th Anniversary

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Grand Forks, ND (WDAY TV) - The Grand Forks International Airport is celebrating a milestone.

This year marks the 50th year the airport has been at its current location just west of the city.

And while there may have been some years of turbulence the operation is experiencing a smooth landing.

This 1942 DC-3 nicknamed Duggy will be a center piece in a 50th birthday celebration for the Grand Forks Airport. 

Patrick Dame / GFK Manger: “And as you can see with a smiley face on Duggy, it's a fantastic kids aircraft.”

Airport manager Patrick Dame is inviting the community to the airport tomorrow afternoon for some family fun and to show the community how the place has really taken off.  After all, GFK makes the top twenty list of the nation's busiest airports.

Dame: “We basically have a take-off or landing here every 30 seconds during normal business hours."

UND's Aviation school, GFK Flight Support, and Fed Ex are included in that statistic. Numbers that show great growth in last half century. The new $23-million terminal built three years ago along makes a statement.

Dame: "if you look back to 2008 we had about 86-thousand passenger in-placements, with the new terminal open we expect to hit about 150,000 this year."

But the airport has not been without it turbulent times. It took 20 years to get airline back to GFK  to offer a westbound flight. United tried it again in 2012 but ended the service in December.

Dame: "It's hard to break that habit that folks have always to be looking at the air service we have had over the years and be in that habit of booking and not realizing that we have some of that expanded service."

Dame says with more people using the airport it could attract another airlines to offer a west-bound flight. But for now Dame says one of the goals here is to keep the airport from looking it's age.

Dame: :Some of the original buildings the original pavement are starting to get to be   50 years old so there has to be some rehabilitation.”

The public celebration event will be held tomorrow from three until seven.