United Airlines was scheduled to be the first commercial airline to land at the newly opened Williston Basin International Airport, but fate -and the weather- had other ideas in mind.

Williston’s new airport, XWA as it is most frequently called, opened on Thursday, Oct. 10 to great fanfare and excitement. Adding to that excitement was the news that Delta Connections would be the first flight to land at the airport, due to the United Airlines flight being held over in Denver with icing issues. The meant that Captain Elliott Monson, pilot of the Delta flight and Williston native, would be the first commercial pilot to land at the city’s new facility.

Monson was scheduled to be the second flight to land, and was not even aware that he had inadvertently become the first until he had already landed and pulled up to the terminal. City leaders, airport officials and several members of Monson’s family waited anxiously in the terminal for him to emerge from the passenger bridge, which he did to an explosion of applause and cheers.

“It’s incredible,” Monson told the Williston Herald. “All the stars aligned, so it was great.”

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