|The Pueblo Airport Restaurant
Story by Gerrit Paulsen
Photos by Don Mickey
"There sure is a lot to see here in Colorado!" my passenger exclaimed as we crossed La Veta pass from the west and started our descent into Pueblo. I agreed. The contrast of landscapes in the Southwest are dramatically apparent here. The smooth peaks of the Northern New Mexico Rockies to our south rise in tree covered slopes above the high desert, while just behind us and to the north, the menacing jagged peaks of Southern Colorado reach sharply into the sky. As the plains of Eastern Colorado opened up before us, yet another landscape revealed itself. This one is comprised of gentle rolling plains spotted by irrigated farmland. In this world of contrasts, Pueblo sits alone, nestled along the Arkansas river as it makes its way from the eastern slopes of the towering Rockies to the plains of Western Kansas.
The first evidence of Pueblo, as we arrived from the Southwest, were the smokestacks south of town. Using these as a reference, we located the airport, just east of the city limits. The airport was initially constructed as an Army Air Corps Base in 1943, then conveyed to the City of Pueblo in 1953 for use as a Municipal Airport. The military is still very much in evidence here, as is the "big iron" of commercial aviation. Pueblo Muni is a very popular destination for instrument and emergency procedures training flight for both the Air Force and for major airlines.
Approach control informed us to expect runway 26L, as an Air Force C-130 was practicing touch and goes in a closed pattern on 26R. Because of the number of large aircraft that use Pueblo for pattern work, the 10,496 ft. ILS-equipped 8L-26R is generally reserved for the heavies, while 8R-26L serves the majority of general aviation aircraft. This runway is really nothing more than the northernmost portion of the vast parking ramp, with the outline of a runway drawn onto the pavement.
Once down, we taxied off the runway to the contiguous ramp. Apart from the C-130 and one student pilot who was, it seemed, pushing his instructors nerves to the limit in the pattern, we were the only plane operating on the field. Parking in front of Flower Aviation, we enjoyed the sights as we made our way to the terminal. The facility, as well as the entire airport, was in pristine condition. Once in the empty terminal, we found the Pueblo Airport Restaurant, ready for a late lunch. We were seated on a clean, sunny, enclosed patio. Looking past the flower bed and perfectly manicured grass, we were treated to the ongoing touch and go activity of the two planes in the pattern, with the majestic mountains as a backdrop. What a view!
Our waitress appeared immediately to go over the menu with us and offer suggestions. The fare consisted of standard airport food: burgers, sandwiches, salads, and a selection of Mexican favorites. I went for a chicken burrito and an iced tea, while my companion opted for a chef salad and a Coke. Our drinks were brought out in record time, and almost before we could take a sip, the waitress returned with our meals. This record-breaking service alone was a welcome occurrence for two hungry travelers, whose earlier meandering in the sky had led to this mid-afternoon lunch. Hungry and thirsty, we polished off our meals in no time, but before we could finish our drinks, our waitress appeared with a fresh glass for each of us. "Either this restaurant has the best service anywhere," I thought to myself, "or they know Im going to write a review." For less than $15.00, we were satisfied with our meals and awed by the service.
The gift of time we received from the restaurants prompt service allowed us to dally longer at the Pueblo aircraft museum. Located a short walk from the terminal building, the museum complex is composed of two sections: The Weisbrod Aircraft Museum, a fascinating outdoor display of many historic and unique aircraft, and the International B-24 Memorial Museum, an indoor display area dedicated to the mighty "Liberator." Hundreds of Liberator crews were trained here in Pueblo during W.W.II, including the Chinese Air Force 8th Bomb Group. Opened in 1989, the B-24 museum houses the history, memorabilia, and personal stories of the B-24 era. One low admission donation price covered both museums, and we truly needed the extra time to soak in all the sights.
As we returned to our plane, passing back through the FBO, we were treated to another surprisefresh baked cookies to help us on our way. Crossing the ramp, we couldnt help but notice a pretty young coed directing a private jet to its place on the ramp; very scenic, and a strong incentive to top-off your C-130 or Falcon Jet at Flower Aviation.
On departure, the scenery was no less lovely. The late afternoon sun gave the farm fields a golden glow, and silhouetted the mountain peaks against an azure sky. The controllers at Pueblo helped add to the mood. They have to be some of the friendliest and most helpful people in aviation anywhere. As we departed, they wished us a great day and thanked us for coming. It was our pleasure.
The Airport Restaurant is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week, and is available for private evening events, such as fly-ins, after 5 p.m. (719-948-4185). The Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum and International B-24 Museum are also open seven days a week, call 719-948-9219 for hours and more information.
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