WILLISTON, N.D. - Firsts are meant to be celebrated. The first baby of a new year, the first snowfall of winter, and the first landing at a brand new airport are memorable moments.
Williston’s XWA is officially operational, and in an unexpected turn of events, the first commercial airplane to land at the XWA Airport was a Delta flight from Minneapolis, after United Airlines experienced a delay in Denver. One of the Delta pilots who landed the plane, Captain Elliott Monson, was born and raised in Williston.
“It’s an incredible opportunity. It’s truly humbling to be able to do that. Unfortunate for the United flight coming in, but it was great that we could beat them to get in here first," said Monson.
Stephanie and her son Ryder Neal recently moved to Williston, and are travelling home to Portland, Oregon. Since the XWA can handle more flights and larger planes than Sloulin Field, Stephanie is hoping for cheaper tickets.
Stephanie said, “Going back and forth visiting, you know, it gets expensive. It will be easier for my family to travel back up here to come see me more," said Stephanie.
After going through security at the new airport, many travelers are happy they don’t have to worry about getting bumped off flights due to Sloulin Field’s runway safety issues and obstructions.
Jonathan Franklin was traveling to Atlanta, Georgia. He said traveling, especially for work, can cause stress.
“It can be frustrating because you find yourself trying to explain why you’re late, and why you’re not there. So it can be a big headache. It is stressful for a lot of people, and after it’s happened so many times, you just have to learn to roll with it," said Franklin.
After Thursday’s historic opening in America’s newest airport, it seems that the sky is not Williston’s limit.