Ryan Field (2MT1), West Glacier, Montana
Located adjacent to Montana’s Glacier National Park is 2,500 foot long Ryan Field. The Recreational Aviation Foundation is majority owner of this pristine airstrip site, and has constructed camping facilities for pilots’ enjoyment.
History of Ryan Field
When Ben Ryan and his wife, Butchie, retired they settled here and got busy clearing a portion of the timbered land for a home site, followed by building a sawmill from which they produced lumber for the numerous out-buildings.
Ben was a P-38 pilot in WWII and continued to do some private flying after the war. Ben learned aircraft repair, and built his first plane from plans, a tandem seat Wendt Traveler. He spent summers clearing land of trees and moving dirt to level 2500 feet for an airstrip and spent winters fabricating and assembling airplane parts. After three years of effort, Ben was ecstatic when he flew is first “built-from-plans” aircraft from an airport that he also built himself.
Eventually the Ryans – who have no children– decided they would like their property and airstrip maintained for aviators, people that share their passion for aviation. In 2004 the Ryans approached the newly-formed RAF to explore a progressive gifting of the property to the RAF. The RAF is now the majority owner of Ryan Field, but the Ryans still make their quiet home there. Ben has not flown for many years but aviation is still in his blood.
Ryan Field and the RAF
Since 2004 RAF volunteers have removed encroaching trees, leveled the runway , cleared and seeded ground for camping areas, installed tie-downs, erected a second windsock, built a 24’X30’ camping shelter from lumber sawn on Ben’s sawmill, built a masonry BBQ, installed runway marker cones and put in a handicapped accessible vault toilet. Other amenities include picnic tables, a wood burning cook stove in the pilot shelter, and a regulation size horseshoe game. The RAF encourages all pilots to sign in at the pilot registration box.
On going projects at Ryan Field include forestry management involving tree thinning, clearing the outside property line of dead and down trees, gopher and weed control and marking the one mile hiking trail to West Glacier.
Visiting Ryan Field
Ryan Field is a private airfield, jointly owned by the RAF and the Ryans. Members of the flying public are welcome to land, but it is mandatory for each visiting pilot to acquire a current safety briefing by electronic means. See the tab “Pilots” and “Visiting Ryan Field” for complete information.
The Ryans enjoy having visitors and Ben likes to show off the three aircraft he has built, one of which is a smaller version of a WW I Fokker triplane that he built by scaling up the plans of a model airplane.