by Dave Weiman
WILLISTON, N.D. – Aviation has not seen such a surge in activity in the Midwest since the “oil boom” in North Dakota started over the past decade, and Sloulin Field International Airport (KISN) in Williston, North Dakota is doing its best to keep up with air transportation services with the establishment of a new flight center.
Fargo Jet Center – North Dakota’s largest fixed base operator – has entered into an agreement with Denver-based Ross Aviation and North Dakota-based Overland Aviation to expand services by purchasing the assets of Overland Aviation. The new operation is called Williston Jet Center. Tanner Overland has been named manager of the new operation. Experienced personnel from both Fargo and Denver operations have been summoned to assist in the transition. Aircraft maintenance and air taxi charter services will be provided in cooperation with Fargo Jet Center.
Plans are underway to improve the current facilities to accommodate the growth, while anticipating that a new airport may be built further from the city within the next 5 years pending federal funding, planning and anticipated future demand.
Meanwhile, a huge demand exists now, and the infrastructure of the city is drastically changing with new highways, increased housing and expanded services.
People in search of good paying jobs nationwide have migrated to Williston to fill all levels of employment. As a result, a lot of people have found temporary housing and are working long shifts and commuting to their homes every couple of weeks or months via all modes of transportation.
Hotels have been contracted by the oil industry and room rates have skyrocketed. The oil companies have built residential camps, and trailer parks are springing up everywhere. Townhouses are also being built as fast as possible. City, county and state officials have been hard pressed to meet the immediate needs of the community, and planning has been challenging.
Williston is the county seat of Williams County, North Dakota, with a population of 14,716 in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. CNN reported that as of March 2013, the population grew to 26,677 – a one-year growth of 9.3 percent. By 2017, North Dakota State University research estimates that the population will grow to 44,000.
Sloulin Field International Airport, which covers 740 acres at an elevation of 1,982 feet MSL, is located in the city and only 2 nautical miles north of Williston’s central business district. The airport is included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2011–2015, which categorized it as a primary commercial service facility.
The airport is mostly used for general aviation, but is also served by Great Lakes Airlines, United Express, and Delta Connection. Customs service is available for aircraft arriving from Canada and other countries.