State-of-the-Art Airfield Lighting Transforms Rural Airport Into Premier Turf Landing Strip Destination


The City of Backus is located in Cass County, Minnesota, with a population of 250 residents. Backus Municipal Airport is located 160 miles north of Minneapolis, surrounded by forest and nestled in the heart of the rural City. The airport has a turf runway length of 3,588 feet and a width of 145 feet – creating year-round ability for many different types of recreational and light business aircraft to easily access and visit the Northcentral Minnesota region.

Backus Municipal Airport is known as a premier turf landing strip destination. However, to continue serving its users and maintain this reputation, the airport landing strip required critical repairs and renovations. Specifically, the airport’s lighting system was aging and unreliable. The City needed a multidisciplined partner with large and small airport planning and design experience, who understood the nuances of rural airports as well as state funding for such efforts.


The City of Backus selected SEH to undertake these critical repairs. The project team replaced the unreliable lighting system with state-of-the-art LED lighting. The new lighting system has decreased operations and maintenance expenses for the airport, provided major safety improvements for based and transient aircraft, and spurred growth for the airport. In addition, the City’s investments in key airport infrastructure have further increased residents’ interests in basing their aircrafts at the airport.

In addition to these efforts, the SEH project team coordinated a fuel system replacement, terminal rehabilitation and renovation, and fencing improvements. Following this project, SEH began working with the City to develop a long-term Airport Master Plan in order to capture the excitement around these new projects, to make room for new hangars and based aircraft, and to ensure strategic decision making for many years ahead. These projects utilized 90 percent project funding support from the Minnesota Department of Transportation – Aeronautics.

SEH and the City garnered the Minnesota Council of Airports 2019 Project of the Year Award for their work on this project and its results. The Minnesota Council of Airports recognized the project for “exemplary work in the growth and development of aviation in Minnesota,” as well as “significant improvement to airport operations.”


2019 Project of the Year Award | Minnesota Council of Airports

airfield lighting

Related Content: Airport Excellence: An SEH Roundtable Discussing the Future of Aviation

Airport planning and design
State-of-the-art LED lighting
Fuel system replacement
Terminal rehabilitation and renovation
Fencing improvements

Backus Airfield Lighting Replacement

City of Backus, Minnesota