Kenai Municipal Airport

Courtesy of KRSA

A Soldotna man who died in a plane crash Sunday was a dad, business owner and sport fisherman.

Derek Leichliter died while preparing for a hunting trip on Kodiak Island. He was 39. 

At the time of the crash, Leichliter was flying gear out to the remote Saltery Cove ahead of a five-day hunting trip. His plane crashed a few hundred yards from the Kodiak Airport runway around 2 p.m. Sunday.

Photo Sabine Poux/KDLL

The Kenai Municipal Airport is is the first thing a lot of people see when they get into town.

So it’s important that it looks good. And it’s much more up-to-date now, after a nearly $14 million remodel that wrapped up last spring. 

The city is cutting the ribbon on the updated terminal this week. 

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

Kenai’s airport has space for three carriers. But those spaces haven’t all been full since 2013, when Lake and Peninsula Airlines was at the airport.

This spring, a new airline will offer daily flights from Kenai to Anchorage and back. Rambler Air will join Ravn Alaska and Grant Aviation as early as next month, pending approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. The Kenai City Council signed off on a lease agreement with the airline this week.

Elizabeth Earl/KDLL

For the first time since its predecessor went bankrupt this April, Ravn Alaska is resuming regular scheduled service to Kenai and several other Alaska communities.

The airline is doing six flights a day from Kenai to Anchorage and six in the other direction. Starting Monday, Nov. 30, travelers could book seats on scheduled Ravn flights for $89 a ticket. 

National Weather Service

Driving north on Marathon Road past the Kenai Municipal Airport, you might notice what looks like a giant teed-up golf ball way out to the west. That’s actually a weather station. Right now, it’s down for two weeks as it undergoes routine repairs.

The radar, a WSR-88D, is owned and operated by the Federal Aviation Administration, which uses it for air traffic control. David Kochevar, of the National Weather Service in Anchorage, said the radar is also used for forecasting.

Jacob Caldwell’s family purchased Kenai Aviation from Bob and Jim Bielefeld two years ago. The Bielefelds’ operation flew workers from Kenai Municipal Airport to the oil fields, but their business waned when oil companies started making their own flights in house. When the Caldwells took over, they sought to make charter flight services and pilot training part of their operations. 

And that’s exactly what they did.

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

From a bird’s eye view, or maybe a pilot’s view, the Kenai Airport hasn’t changed much. The footprint is almost exactly the same, but to visitors arriving through that terminal, it’s a totally different place than two years ago.

The City of Kenai took on a comprehensive airport terminal overhaul starting in 2018. The terminal hadn’t had a serious remodel in decades. With about a $12 million price tag, the vast majority of the money came from the Federal Aviation Administration. A small match—about $1.5 million—came from the city.

As work continues to remodel the Kenai Municipal Airport terminal building, businesses inside are suffering. At last week’s Kenai City Council meeting, the council took steps to relieve the financial burden all the construction is causing.

Introduced by Vice Mayor Tim Navarre, the resolution would give the city manager the power to adjust occupancy fees on a case-by-case basis.

Fog forces Raptors to divert to Kenai

Nov 14, 2018

Five of the U.S. Air Force's top-of-the-line interceptors were forced to spend the night in Kenai last night.

Dense fog around Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage forced the diversion to Kenai Municipal Airport.

The Kenai Fire Department posted a video to Facebook last night that shows a couple of the jets landing.

Airport terminal remodel has begun

Oct 23, 2018

Remodeling at the Kenai Municipal Airport terminal has begun. City Manager Paul Ostrander informed the city council of that at last week’s meeting.

“Construction did begin last week. However, there’s only going to be a small amount of work done before winter comes,” he said. “And the real work won’t begin until late-winter, early spring, probably April May. So there’ll probably not be a lot to see until we get into spring of next year.”

Kenai moves to next phase of airport remodel

Apr 23, 2018



An analysis of what’s needed to remodel the Kenai airport is finished and last week, the city council approved spending an extra $268,000 for the design phase.

Program will help little readers on the go

Feb 19, 2018

The Kenai City Council recently gave the OK to participation in a program that will keep young travelers occupied while enriching their brains. It’s the “Read on the Fly” program, created by “A-K on the GO” in 2016. It installs and stocks bookshelves for young readers at several Alaska airports. It received unanimous support at the Kenai Airport Commission last month, said Councilman Jim Glendening.