A Front Range IFR Practice Locale Hosts a $100 Hamburger Spot

The Barnstormers Restaurant at the Greeley airport in Colorado gives pilots good reason to stop in for lunch after an approach or two.

With two long, non-intersecting runways, the Greeley-Weld County Airport (KGXY) in Colorado attracts pilots notching hours for proficiency on blue-sky days like flies to a picnic—or a patty, if you acknowledge that the prime business of the surrounding area is beef. 

Owing to its position on the flatlands east of Colorado’s Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, it’s a prime location for practice approaches as well. You can sample just about every flavor at hand, from the ILS or LOC Runway 35, through a slew of RNAV (GPS) procedures to every runway end, to a VOR-A off of the Gill (GLL) VOR for those coming in from the northeast.

That ILS 35 approach holds a special place in my heart as a once-local CFII (instrument instructor), since it features a DME arc—at 17.5 nm from GLL. Those IFR pilots of a certain age will recall the “time, turn, twist” once required to fly the arc in precise 10-degree increments, but now the GPS on many navigators and compatible autopilots smoothly fly it for you. It’s fun to do it the old-fashioned way, trust me.

Not interested in instrument practice, or just not there yet? With two ample runways, you can make crosswind landings whenever there’s any breeze at all—and this close to the Rockies that’s almost assured.

Another Reason to Fly In

All of those approaches, landings—and the occasional go-around—can cause a pilot to work up an appetite. KGXY has a legacy of hosting a perfectly legit place for a $100 hamburger, and the newish GA terminal is now home to the Barnstormers Restaurant.

The buffalo patty melt features the lean burger along with grilled onions and melted cheese. [Courtesy: Julie Boatman]

Or, make that a buffalo burger, please—the lean meat forms a popular option on Colorado menus, and Barnstormers serves theirs up with a choice of chips, fries, or a salad—or switched up patty-melt style on rye bread with grilled onions. You can also opt for another Rocky Mountain favorite, the burrito with beef and/or beans, and go for the green chili on top unless you’re a vegetarian—like many versions of the New Mexican specialty, the chili’s chock full of roast pork. A range of sandwiches and salads and a few brunch options round things out. Prices are reasonable, and parking on the wide ramp is free and plentiful.

Your table view from the café includes the wide ramp at KGXY. [Courtesy: Julie Boatman]

Head on a Swivel

The mix of traffic into the wide-ranging airfield prompts everyone to keep a close watch out, and make consistent radio calls in order to ensure the separation between folks landing north-south (on Runway 17/35) and east-west (on Runway 10/28). The route between other nearby airports— such as Boulder Municipal (KBDU), Northern Colorado Regional (KFNL), and Longmont’s Vance Brand (KLMO)—can heat up with pilots trekking there and back. So, best to keep a close eye both on the ADS-B and out of the windscreen.

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