The terminal of Yellowstone Regional Airport officially has a name — one that pays tribute to a longtime advocate of local air service.
The airport board voted unanimously to name the terminal the “Senator Hank Coe Terminal” during its Jan. 11 meeting, almost two years after the idea was first introduced to the board by Cody Mayor Matt Hall and Park County Commissioner Lee Livingston in April 2021.
The terminal at YRA had no prior designation. The general aviation terminal was named after historic Cody aviator Elmer Faust in 1992 and this terminal is still named in his honor.
Sen. Coe, who died in January 2021, was an avid supporter of air service in Cody. Former county commissioner, and Coe’s longtime friend, Joe Tilden told the airport board the senator had “done more for commercial aviation in the state of Wyoming — and in particular Cody, Wyoming — than anyone else I know of.”
Coe was a founding member of the Cody-Yellowstone Air Improvement Resources organization, an advocacy group for Yellowstone Regional Airport. He would travel across the country to lobby for YRA in front of airline executives, petitioning for more flights and days of air service to and from Cody.
“The fact that we have our current air service … is because of Hank,” Coe’s colleague Rep. Sandy Newsome, R-Cody, had told the Enterprise at the time of his passing.
The building will become the second Park County facility named after a Coe family member. The hospital was originally named after Hank Coe’s grandfather, W.R. Coe, for a period of time and still retains the honor for its Coe Pharmacy. The Coe Auditorium at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West is named after Peg Coe, Hank Coe’s mother, and a library at the University of Wyoming is also named after W.R. Coe.
The newly named terminal will be accompanied by a statue and plaque honoring Sen. Coe, his son H.R. Coe told the airport board. However, there was some disagreement about where the new bronze statue of Coe should go.
H.R. Coe said he had promised donors the statue would be placed in front of the airport in a space that is currently the home of “Big Hal” — a statue of a grizzly bear made by artist Michael Coleman and on loan from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. H.R. said he was unaware until recently the airport board would have to approve this location.
“It’s very important to us that it goes where the bear is,” H.R. Coe said. “It’s a big deal to us …There are donors that have given us large sums of money that say they can’t wait to walk out of this terminal and see a statue of my dad. So it puts me in an odd spot to go back to the donors and say, ‘That might not be where it is,’ because I didn’t know any of this at the time.”
H.R. Coe said several times during the meeting he would pay for the creation of a new foundation for “Big Hal” elsewhere on the airport property. He said the creation and placement of the Coe statue was entirely donor-funded and would come at no cost to YRA.
Several board members, including Harold Musser, said they felt the statue belonged in the new terminal that will be named after Coe.
“For me, when you’re walking into the Yellowstone Regional Airport, you should see something related to Yellowstone (like the bear),” Musser said. “I think Hank’s statue and plaque would be better there in his named area.”
YRA Director Aaron Buck said the board is in favor of housing a statue of Coe at the airport, but the specific location would continue to be discussed at coming meetings.
H.R. Coe said the statue has been in the works for six months, and he hopes to have it completed by the time the new terminal opens to the public.