“Cedar Rapids Airport, where’s that?” Many people may ask this question, though the airport is sometimes still referred to by that name. Still, perhaps you know it better as the Eastern Iowa Airport, which it became officially after a name change in 1997, primarily to reflect its status as a regional airport.
Before this time, the airport was simply considered a municipal airport, but it has grown significantly in recent years. In 2008 a million passengers arrived or departed from the airport for first time, and in 2019 the numbers had approached one and a half million passengers. A substantial number of airlines fly out of the Eastern Iowa Airport, and although it is small compared to most of the international airports, it is rapidly becoming better known.
However, of what interest is all of this to pilots, particularly private and general aviation pilots, you may ask. Well, the Eastern Iowa Airport has a popular and well-respected flying school, and a large number of private and general aviation pilots do fly in and out of the airport. So it could be a good place to visit since it is large enough to have all necessary facilities, but not so huge that general aviation traffic is either sidelined or has made life very difficult for them.
I should know – I have flown to a number of large airports, including Los Angeles International (LAX), and I found out how difficult it can be to cope unless you have a lot of experience with visiting airports of this size. So the Eastern Iowa Airport could well be a good place to visit – or you might even want to learn to fly here. Read on and find out some further details.
Bottom Line Up Front
The Eastern Iowa Airport is the new name for what used to be called Cedar Rapids Airport. It’s a regional airport and, as such, is a good place for private and general aviation pilots to fly to, being of medium size but with all facilities. The city of Cedar Rapids is close by and could be an interesting place to visit.
The Eastern Iowa Airport could also be a good place to learn to fly, and the flying school based there, Iowa Flight Training, seems to be well thought of by previous students. However, handling and hangarage at the Eastern Iowa Airport seem to be quite expensive by some people’s standards, so if you go there, the prices of these things need to be checked in advance.
Why Fly to the Eastern Iowa Airport?
There are a number of reasons why you might be thinking about flying into the Eastern Iowa Airport. Let’s take a look at each of them in turn.
It Is Fairly Local For You
If you are a private pilot with a limited amount of experience, you probably don’t want to fly to anywhere too far away. So if you are based in Iowa or somewhere close, flying to the Eastern Iowa Airport might be a sensible choice for a flight fairly soon after you get your Private Pilot’s License. The airport is not too large and has runways of a reasonable length, so landing there should not be too challenging for you.
However, as with a flight to any new airport, you need to study in detail the runway layout and how you plan to approach the airport. Also, make sure you have radio details and similar information written down so that you have a plan in place. Most of this information is covered later on in this article, so do take note of it
You Are Looking For A New Destination That Is Not Too Challenging
Suppose you are a fairly inexperienced pilot or simply any private pilot looking for an easy flight. In that case, the Eastern Iowa Airport could be a good destination for you, regardless of where you are based. Iowa as a whole has few obstacles for pilots, with no high mountains or coastal areas, which can both mean unpredictable winds. And the airport is easy to find, being just off of Interstate 380. So if like many of us, you navigate by following freeways when you can, the airport will be easy to find. And being a regional airport, it will be far less crowded with commercial traffic than Des Moines International Airport. So even if you are traveling quite a distance, this could be a good place to visit without being too challenging.
An Enjoyable Day Out
Most private pilots like to fly somewhere to have a fun day out. The Eastern Iowa Airport is less than nine miles from the city of Cedar Rapids. You may have a specific reason for going there, but if not, it is still an excellent place to visit with plenty of things to do.
Cedar Rapids is the second largest city in Iowa and, as such, has quite a number of attractions, as well as restaurants and cafes, which you may want to visit. There is the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, which has many paintings by local artist Grant Wood. Then there is Brucemore, a cultural center in an 1880s mansion, which has local history displays and interesting gardens. Finally, The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library displays exhibits on central European culture and history, including that of 19th-century immigrants. All of these might be well worth visiting if you are planning on stopping for a while in Cedar Rapids. However, do check how much you will have to pay at the airport for parking and hangarage, as some pilots have been caught out by this – see later in this article for pilots’ reviews on this topic.
A Business Trip
If you are visiting Iowa by private plane as part of a business trip, the Eastern Iowa Airport could be a good place to land. It will be less complicated than landing at the far larger Des Moines International Airport and is likely to be cheaper too. It is fairly central and has good ground transport links, including an excellent bus service, with no bus fares having been charged since the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic. And as a fairly large city, meals and accommodation in Cedar Rapids will be easy to find.
Basic Aviation Information For the Eastern Iowa Airport
As for any airport, you need to have a certain amount of basic information before flying yourself there. Here are most of the things you will need to know in advance before flying in there, and also some which may be of general interest.
The designated code for the airport is CID, or sometimes KCID. This is the code designated by the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority). The letters are said to stand for Cedar Rapids Airport Commission, but I really can’t see where the abbreviation actually came from! Nevertheless, you will often hear the Eastern Iowa Airport referred to in aviation circles as CID.
Runway directions at the Eastern Iowa Airport are 09/27 and 13/31. If you are not familiar with this way of stating runway directions, you need to know that these represent the direction of the runway, and of course, you will need to know them if you are flying into the Eastern Iowa Airport. The longest runway is 09/27, which is 8,600 feet or 2,621 meters in length. This is a very long runway, So you should have no difficulty flying any type of plane into here, however little experience you may have.
You will be told which runway is in use when you make contact with the airport on the radio. However, if for any reason you wish to use a different runway, it is always acceptable to ask, and permission will usually be granted if you have a good reason.
The pattern altitude at the Eastern Iowa Airport is 1799 MSL for light aircraft and 2499 MSL for heavy aircraft. This is the required height above Mean Sea Level for aircraft in the airport pattern.
Below are the most important radio frequencies for those flying into the Eastern Iowa Airport…
TWR (Tower) 118.7 (4:45 am to 11:30 pm)
GND (Ground) 121.6
ATIS (Recorded airport information) 124.15
APP (Approach) Cedar Rapids/134.05, Cedar Rapids/119.7
UNICOM (Advisory information) 122.9 & 122.95
The elevation of the Eastern Iowa Airport is given as 869 feet. This is the height above mean sea level. It is relevant when flying to an airport, as the power available to an aircraft depends on altitude to a large extent. However, this is not particularly high, and you should have no problem flying in – or getting out, which can often be more difficult in the case of an airport at high altitude. I remember having trouble departing from Big Bear Airport in California, which is at over 6000 feet, but that is another story and not really relevant here.
The Eastern Iowa Airport is designated as Class C from 0500-2330, and at other times is Class E.
Class C airspace is a type of controlled airspace, and you can only fly in it when you have established two-way radio communication with the airport. So call the airport as your approach, but until you hear your callsign repeated back, do not enter the Class C airspace close to the Eastern Iowa Airport. The boundary of the airspace will be marked on your chart or GPS. Class E is uncontrolled airspace; you can fly in it anytime.
Signature Flight Support deals with handling at the Eastern Iowa Airport. This organization is a huge network of Fixed Base Operators (FBOs), with more than 200 locations across the US. Signature offers essential support services for business and private aviation, including refueling, hangarage, and a variety of other services. You will most likely need this organization for your own fuelling and possibly also for hangarage and similar services. But you do need to realize that Signature has something of a reputation for being expensive – see reports from pilots in the reviews section of this article.
Other Useful Information
Navigational aids at the airport include ILS, VOR, RVR, DME, NDB, terminal area radar, and secondary surveillance radar. The airport can handle aircraft from the smallest, such as the Cessna 150, to the largest, such as the Boeing 747.
Iowa Flight Training is the flying school based at the airport. If you want to learn to fly at the Eastern Iowa Airport, this could be a good flying school to use. See further details about the school in the next section.
The Rockwell Flying Club is based at the Eastern Iowa Airport. However, apparently, membership is primarily restricted to Collins Aerospace employees, spouses, and retirees, so this is unlikely to be relevant to most pilots. However, if you want to know more, you can visit the flying club’s website here.
Learning to Fly at the Eastern Iowa Airport
Perhaps you are not a pilot yet, but you want to learn to fly! If this is the case, there is a good flying school at the Eastern Iowa Airport – Iowa Flight Training (IFT).
This flying school operates both at the Eastern Iowa Airport and also the Waverly Municipal Airport. They have five instructors at Cedar Rapids. They offer trial lessons at both locations, so this could be a good way to see if this is what you want to do and to make sure that you like the flying school and the instructors.
Of course, if you are based in Iowa, this could be the ideal place for you to learn to fly, but it might be suitable even if you’re not. After all, the Eastern Iowa Airport is large enough for you to experience everything a private pilot needs to deal with, such as full radio use, airline, and other commercial traffic, and so on, unlike smaller airports. But it is not too crowded, which is often the case if you learn to fly at a large international airport.
Iowa Flight Training has training from Sport Pilot through Private Pilot to Commercial Pilot training, plus a number of instructors and a fleet of both Cessna and Piper aircraft. They also offer ground school classes. If you want to go further than private pilot training, but not to full training as an airline pilot, they also offer instrument training and a flight instructor course. The school also has a small shop selling books, headsets, and other pilot paraphernalia.
Former students seem to rate this flying school highly. Here are a couple of reviews from the school’s Facebook page:
“I’ve taken both the private and instrument ground schools at IFT and was highly impressed with both, excellent training.”
“I took my instrument instruction through IFT years back and was paired with a CFII who made sure I was ready to meet any challenge once endorsed for my check ride. The aircraft are also kept up to great standards, and I never felt unsafe in any one of those Piper aircraft.”
So it seems that learning to fly here could be something worth thinking about, at least.
What Do Other Pilots Think – Reviews Of The Eastern Iowa Airport
Pilots who fly in seem to like Eastern Iowa Airport, on the whole. Here are some typical opinions.
“I have landed here a few times, Signature is on the field, top quality people, always going above and beyond!”
The only complaints, as mentioned above, seem to be about the amount charged for landing and handling, all of which is handled by Signature.
“I flew into CID for business with a C172S. With temps hovering around zero for the night, I was asked if I’d like the plane put in the hangar overnight. Having done this at other airports and with other FBOs for many years, I agreed. The line crews were great, but when I returned home, I looked at my invoice and found $107 for “Hangar Rental.” Absurd. I did not want to purchase the hangar, just put my plane in there along with others.”
“I flew into KCID Friday, May 19, for a weekend at the Amana Colonies. I taxied to Signature FBO. Very friendly and professional grounds crew and office help. They secured a rental car for me in advance and had my Archer serviced and ready to go at the front door when I returned on Sunday afternoon. I had requested that they hangar my plane as there were thunderstorms forecast for Saturday morning. When they gave me my bill for fuel and hangar, they charged $103/night to hangar a Piper Archer, $206 for two nights. I couldn’t believe it, but the fault was mine. I assumed the hangar rent would be $25-$50/night. NEVER ASSUME.”
So if you go there and need hangarage, perhaps check in advance on prices and other details, and maybe look for an alternative if necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Where exactly is the Eastern Iowa Airport?
Answer: The airport is on the south edge of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, two miles west of Interstate 380. It covers 3288 acres.
Question: Is the Eastern Iowa Airport the main airport in Iowa?
Answer: No, it is not. That honor belongs to Des Moines International Airport, which is close to Des Moines, the capital of Iowa. The Eastern Iowa Airport is a regional airport in Iowa.
Question: What airlines fly in and out of the Eastern Iowa Airport?
Answer: There are at least five airlines that do this regularly – including Allegiant, American Airlines, Delta, Frontier, and United. So it should not be too crowded with airline traffic if you want to fly here in a small plane.
Question: Who owns the Eastern Iowa airport?
Answer: The Eastern Iowa Airport (CID) is owned by the City of Cedar Rapids.
Question: Is the Eastern Iowa Airport a good place to fly into?
Answer: It certainly seems to be a good place to fly to. Pilots rate it highly, and as a medium-sized regional airport, it is neither so small that facilities are limited nor so large that it concentrates on commercial traffic to the detriment of private and general aviation flights. However, handling and hangarage can be expensive.
The Eastern Iowa Airport, which used to be known as Cedar Rapids Airport, is an airport definitely worth considering if you are looking for a new place to fly to. However, you will need to watch out for the cost of hangarage and handling. The airport could also be a good place to learn to fly, and Iowa Flight Training, which is based there, is often recommended. So if you live in that area or want to visit, you could do worse than give the Eastern Iowa Airport a try!
Eastern Iowa Airport (Fly CID) https://flycid.com/
AOPA – (KCID) The Eastern Iowa Airport. https://www.aopa.org/destinations/airports/KCID/details
Best Aviation.net (Iowa Flight Training) https://www.bestaviation.net/school/iowa_flight_training/
Iowa Flight Training. https://www.iowaflighttraining.com/
Rockwell Flying Club. http://www.rockwellflyingclub.org/