Each year, a multitude of private jets descends upon smaller airports scattered throughout the United States, transforming quaint airstrips into bustling hubs for the affluent. From the exclusive billionaire retreat of Sun Valley, Idaho, to the ephemeral desert airstrip at Burning Man in Black Rock, Nevada, these airports become the temporary domains of business moguls, pop icons, and Hollywood luminaries, including the likes of Taylor Swift, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk, clocking thousands of airborne hours.

While Business Insider previously compiled a comprehensive list of the top private jet destinations in the US, this focus is now narrowed to unveil the top airports catering to private jets in smaller towns, cities, and rural landscapes across the nation. Noteworthy is the omission of some well-known hotspots like Sun Valley and Black Rock, replaced by destinations synonymous with high-end outdoor pursuits, such as the coastal havens in Massachusetts and the snowy slopes of Colorado.

Full length view of small jet with exit door open and airstair lowered.

These airports, though petite in size, are strategically located in affluent regions that attract the world’s wealthy elite during vacations. Unlike commercial airliners, which utilize regular gates, the affluent jet-setters prefer fixed-based operators (FBOs) for their private jet landings. FBOs provide essential services like maintenance, parking, and refueling, often bypassing the need for extensive security checks, ensuring a swift and convenient flying experience.

According to data from JetSpy as of December 1, the rankings are determined by the number of landings at each airport. These exclusive airstrips necessitate meticulous planning and training to accommodate the multi-million dollar jets that grace their tarmacs.

1. Aspen/Pitkin County Airport

  • Total landings: 9,655
  • Aspen, Colorado, secures the top spot on BI’s list, boasting a town with a mere 6,000 permanent residents but witnessing over a million visits from skiers each season, according to the Aspen Times.

2. Jackson Hole Airport

  • Total landings: 7,586
  • Nestled near Yellowstone, Jackson Hole Airport in Wyoming is a pivotal hub for major ski areas and year-round activities. Celebrities like Elon Musk and Tiger Woods are known to frequent the area, and it hosts the annual symposium of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

3. Gallatin Field

  • Total landings: 7,175
  • Located just outside Bozeman, Montana, Gallatin Field attracts private jets and has even played host to Air Force One. Positioned about an hour and a half from Yellowstone National Park, it draws in the wealthy seeking a secluded retreat.

4. Nantucket Memorial Airport

  • Total landings: 5,940
  • Overlooking Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket is a popular beach town attracting the affluent seeking relaxation, pristine beaches, and fine dining. The airport’s operations have seen an increase, particularly during the winter, as people opt to stay year-round due to remote work opportunities post-COVID.

5. Rifle Garfield County Airport

  • Total landings: 4,223
  • Situated around 60 miles from renowned ski destinations in Colorado, Rifle Garfield is a preferred alternate for wealthy vacationers heading to ski areas near Eagle and Aspen airports.

6. Eagle County Regional Airport

  • Total landings: 3,812
  • Less than 40 miles from Vail, Colorado, Eagle County Regional Airport serves as a vital gateway for vacationers eager to hit the slopes, reflecting its status as one of the busiest regional airports in the nation.

7. Cape Cod Gateway Airport

  • Total landings: 3,161
  • Positioned north of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Cape Cod Gateway Airport is a sought-after destination for private jets, catering to the affluent crowd drawn to the pristine beaches of Cape Cod during the summer months.

8. Martha’s Vineyard Airport

  • Total landings: 2,598
  • Located just south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Martha’s Vineyard Airport attracts a steady stream of visitors, particularly during high travel seasons. With only around 17,000 residents living on the island full-time, this number swells during the summer, drawing in celebrities like Spike Lee and former President Barack Obama.

In these enclaves of opulence, where the world’s elite converge for leisure, these small airports play a pivotal role in ensuring seamless and exclusive air travel experiences for the privileged few.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *