Last month’s article talked about some of the concerns around the airport regarding noise from flying aircraft. Several of our readers reached out directly to me about that article and there was a lengthy discussion of the article on the Prescott Facebook page. I’m very pleased to see that there was overwhelming positive public support for our aviation community in Prescott.
This month, let’s talk in detail about how the average citizen can support the airport and airport services. The easiest support possible is to be an informed voter and participate. Without getting political here, many of the problems in this country today are because people don’t participate or get informed about topics of importance to their communities, states and the nation. So, let’s get educated and participate!
One source of education is the Prescott Airport Users Association, which I’ve highlighted previously. Anyone who is interested in aviation is welcome to attend meetings and you’ll hear directly from the airport administrative staff, the FAA control tower, as well as the major flight schools.
The airport itself relies on businesses and individuals to support operations. Without people using an airport, an airport will die. It’s that simple. To support the growth of the airport, the converse is also that simple: We need to utilize the airport!
For the average citizen of our community, the easiest way to utilize the airport is to fly the airline. To date, the SkyWest service launch has been the best ever and that’s because the flying public has supported the new airline in record-breaking numbers. SkyWest bid that contract at a 44% load factor, which means they planned for planes to be flying less than half full. That number has been greatly exceeded, with load factors reaching into the 90% range. Ultimately, this utilization will mean more flights and more destinations.
Some other ways to support the airport and its businesses are to utilize them.
Do you know that there is a good restaurant right in the airport terminal? Come on out and enjoy a delicious breakfast and watch planes on the weekend.
How about taking a Discovery Flight? Have you ever wanted to see the Dells from the air? Lynx Lake? The Goldwater Lakes? Or Sedona and its marvelous red rocks? My company offers these flights and they really are for two different audiences.
The first audience is someone who simply would love to experience flying and seeing our iconic landscape and rock formations from the air. The second audience is the person who might be considering a career in aviation but wants to get a taste first before committing significant time and money to aviation training. These flights serve as an introduction to flying lessons and you will get to take the controls and experience flight from the pilot’s seat.
Or, take it a step further and get involved with aviation. You can do that by learning to fly. People have all sorts of reasons for wanting to learn to fly. The motivation can be a potential career opportunity or can be a “bucket list” achievement.
Another possible way to get involved is by being an aircraft builder. General aviation started as a homebuilt project (the Wright Flyer) and continues to evolve today. If you’re handy, like to build and love learning new things, then perhaps becoming an aircraft homebuilder might be for you. Prescott has a very active EAA chapter, #658 Golden Falcons. My life in aviation started as the son of a homebuilder, helping my dad with his airplane when I was young. Being exposed to the homebuilt aircraft was the No. 1 reason I became a pilot later in life.
For kids interested in aviation, Prescott has a very active Civil Air Patrol unit. For those who don’t know, Civil Air Patrol is an U.S. Airforce Auxiliary that does missions like search and rescue when aircraft are lost – and numerous other activities.
If you’re an entrepreneur, how about starting a business? Or moving an existing business to Prescott? One of our new vendors, A&P Aircraft Detailing, is a new business to town that has moved here from another city. The company does a wonderful job keeping our aircraft looking very nice for our pilots.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Wings Out West Airshow put on by Embry-Riddle, coming Oct. 5. It will be a day full of aviation and information, so come see us. I will be there! QCBN
By Lance Leighnor
Lance Leighnor has four decades of experience in general aviation aircraft, and active management of rental aircraft since 2011. Lance is the managing member of Leighnor Aircraft. He can be reached by phone at 928-499-3080, by email at lance@LeighnorAircraft.com or via the Leighnor Aircraft website at LeighnorAircraft.com.