As downtown Casper and local eclipse-viewing sites welcome visitors by land, the Casper-Natrona County Airport is welcoming them by air.

The airport began receiving the first of an expected 166  privately owned planes early this morning, airport director Glenn Januska said.

By 6:30 p.m., they were arriving about one every two minutes,

About 30 aircraft landed during the weekend, he said. The  total number of passengers and crew will number about 925.

This is a restricted club for the morning, Januska said.

"The airport is actually closed," Januska said. "We closed the airport at five o'clock this morning until 12:15 this afternoon for aircraft that did not have prior permission. In this particular case, we did it by a reservation system, because we didn't want to become inundated."

The airport wanted to make sure it would have enough parking for the planes, he said.

"If we ended up with 50 more aircraft trying to get in, that could displace the people with the reservations, Januska said. "We may not have room for those."

After they landed, they taxied to a waiting area where shuttles from Atlantic Aviation sent shuttles to pick up the passengers and pilots.

Those in the control tower guiding the landings are not accustomed to dealing with such numbers, so the airport has help from the Denver hub and other places, because they planes need to be coordinated as the arrive, Januska said.

"These aircraft are coming from all over the country, so they have to be sequenced getting here," he said. "So they talk to Denver center and other centers that control the traffic before they get to Casper. So that coordination has been in place."

About the same number that arrived this morning will be leaving this afternoon, Januska said.

Most of these eclipse-viewers who arrived won't leave the airport, he added.

More From K2 Radio