The tiny airport that would serve as a gateway to 2 countries

In 1979, a tiny airport with a grass runway would soon allow planes to land in either Canada or the United States.

The binational Piney Pinecreek Border Airport officially opened in July of 1979

Turn left for Canada?

43 years ago
Duration 1:24
In 1979, The National reports on an airport that is located both in Canada and the U.S.

The sign said it all: One arrow pointed to Canada, the other to the United States.

Why? Because the Piney Pinecreek Border Airport had portions of its runway on both sides of the border.

It is located in southeast Manitoba about 150 kilometres from Winnipeg.   

The airport's binational era was officially underway, which is why The National was reporting on it in July of 1979.

As the CBC's Terry Matte explained to viewers, it had first been an American airport until its expansion needs led it to look to the north.

"When a decision was made to extend the runway, it seemed like a good idea to extend it into Canada," he said.

"That would make it convenient for pilots to clear customs on either side of the border."

Mow the runway?

One part of the Piney Pinecreek Border Airport was and is located on land in Piney, Man. The other part is located in Pinecreek, Minn. (The National/CBC Archives)

After seven years of work, the binational aspect of the Piney, Man., and Pinecreek, Minn., airport became a reality — though not that many flights were landing in either country at that time.

"We were told there are about three landings a week here," said Matte, whose report aired on July 27, 1979, the day before the airport was officially opened.

"As it happened, during our visit, we never saw a single airplane."

The local residents and U.S. and Canada hoped the airport would continue to be improved — specifically to have the runway paved at some point.

"Until then, they will have to mow the runway," said Matte.

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