High flying fun
Utah Back Country Pilots Fall Fly In was held at the Huntington Airport on Oct. 1-3. The weather was clear, and dry with calm winds and flying weather could not have been better for this event. Commissioner Gary Kofford welcomed everyone and explained what had been done to improve the airport. Commissioner Jeff Horrocks explained the things airport manager Leon Defriez and the Civil Air Patrol Cadets were doing to make the pilots and associates visit in Emery County a happy one.
The Back Country Pilots Association President Steve Durtschi from Centerville, Utah thanked the Emery County Commissioners Gary Kofford, and Jeff Horrocks along with the airport manager Leon Defriez, for the hospitality and the great airport facilities. Leon Defriez and Huntington Aviation have a contract to manage the airport. Durtschi a spokesman for Back County Pilots Association said, Emery County Commissioners and the Huntington Airport Management have gone all out to make them feel welcome.
Durtschi said, "The BCPA organization has a three fold mission statement: we want to promote safety, we want to protect the airstrips in Utah to make sure they are available to pilots everywhere, and to promote 'leave no trace in the environment'. The Back Country Pilots fly in to little dirt landing strips all over the West and may spend a few days or a few minutes, have a picnic or just look at the scenery. There are three landing strips along the San Rafael Swell that some of these pilots like to fly in and out of."
Emery County and the Huntington Airport provided a dinner and a breakfast Oct 1-2, in the main hanger, to the public and pilots. A tour van driven by Linda Hansen was provided for any pilots and associates that would like to visit the Castle Dale Dinosaur and Natural History Museum, and the Wedge Overlook. Hansen enjoys this work, because after driving the tour she often gets to ride in a plane out over the Wedge Overlook.
A skeet shooting range was set up on the edge of Huntington Air Field with free shells and clays overseen by Bert Oman.
Many planes flew into Huntington Airport Oct. 1 to participate in this event. It was estimated that 55-60 planes flew into the airport. They came from as far away as Bountiful, Delta, Salt Lake City, Michigan, Colorado, Wyoming and Arizona. Some planes that did not land flew over the airfield just to see the festivities. By noon Saturday there were 23 planes on the ground and planes in the air. Three planes flew in and then went on to another activity at Moab. Saturday night about 18 tents for sleeping were set up on the edge of the parking area for planes. Some of the pilots stayed in local motels using the courtesy car.
Several families from Emery County came to take advantage of the Experimental Aircraft Association's offer to children ages 8-17 of a free ride in an airplane. Those that flew were taken on a 30 minute ride out over Cleveland area the Dinosaur Quarry and back to the airport.
The Experimental Aircraft Association is an international organization of aviation enthusiasts based in Oshkosh, Wis. Since its inception it has grown internationally with more than 160,000 members and about 1,000 chapters worldwide.
The EAA also sponsors the Young Eagles program, which was started in 1992 with the aim of giving one million children an airplane ride by Dec. 17 2003, the Centennial of Flight of the Wright brothers. The program reached that goal, and has continued, approaching 1.5 million rides by late 2009. The purpose is to give children a chance to see what it is like to fly in an airplane.
One of those families that came to ride in the planes was the Lee Moss family from Orangeville. The Moss family heard about this Fly In from their good friends Rob and Cindy Midgley. Staci Moss said, she was excited to see all the incredible changes that Leon Defrieze and the county had made at the airport. This was a great opportunity for her children to get exposure to what flying might be like.
Carl Jacobson invited by Leon Defriez brought a group of 11 young men from Castle Dale Second ward to have rides in the airplanes.
Rob Midgely an Airline Pilot for Sky West, came with his family to assist Leon Defriez during this event. Rob was directing two groups of young people with him. The Civil Air Patrol Cadets, part of the Castle Valley Wing out of Price, were there to help park airplanes and provide security for the planes. The other group was the Experimental Aircraft Association, that arrived with planes to offer free rides to children (called Young Eagles) ages 8-17 with parents signing a consent form. Many members of the EAA Salt Lake Chapter were from Sky Park Airport in Bountiful. Every year in August the Experimental Aircraft Association has a huge gathering of planes and events at the Wisconsin Oshkosh airport where planes of all types and descriptions are on display. Mike Guarino from Bountiful, the EAA Young Eagle Coordinator after discussing the attributes of three home built planes on the Huntington tarmac said, Oshkosh is the Mecca of general aviation pilots.
The Civil Air Patrol is the civilian auxiliary to the US Air Force. The CAP Castle Valley Composite Squadron members, dressed in military uniforms, directed aircraft traffic at Huntington Airport throughout the event. In the Castle Valley Composite Squadron there are 25 cadets.
Second Lieutenants Gary Wadley and his wife Alice work with the CAP cadets. When flying Gary Wadley is an observer. Alice said, Cadets can join at age 12 and stay in the program until age 21. While in the program the cadets get five flights in powered aircraft and five glider flights. In addition to the flights the cadets receive aeronautical training. If they stay with the program when they graduate from high school with good grades they can apply to the Air Force Academy.
The Civil Air Patrol, Castle Valley Composite Squadron uses a Cessna 182 with a turbo charged 230 horse power engine for search and rescue.
Roger Williams a pilot from Cheyenne, Wyo., Joanie Diamond a pilot from Frankenmuth, Mich., and Mike Niece a pilot from Frankenmuth, Mich. were seen discussing the best route back to Michigan by way of Wyoming. Joanie said, that it took four days to fly here due to head winds, when they crossed the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming their plane was only going 50 miles per hour ground speed. They hope to catch a tail wind going back Saturday morning. Joanie was flying a yellow and white Piper that she had rebuilt after it was damaged in a windstorm. She said it was a four year rebuilding project. Joanie and Frank said they really enjoyed the spectacular views in Emery County.
Jim Terry and Sabrina Terry from Glenwood Springs, Colo. flew into the Huntington Airport in a silver and green Cessna 180. It took about 1.5 hours to fly from Glenwood Springs to Huntington.
Norm Castle is 71 years old standing by his brown and white Cessna 182. He said he started flying at about age 40, and he has a brother that got his own pilot license to fly at age 68 and is enjoying every minute of it.
Steve Burgess from Tooele flew to the Huntington airport in a Piper Cherokee 180 which was a low wing red and white monoplane. He liked the open space around the airport.
Mark Leloudis from Bountiful, a member of the experimental aircraft Association said this is a beautiful area with plenty of space, not many people are arguing about every inch of their property like in Bountiful. This was his first time to visit Huntington airport.
Erin Ison the Utah Valley University Aviation Student Representative and dispatcher for Utah Valley University Aviation Science Program in Provo, pointed out that the University has education available online from your home or on the campus. The plane he flew into Huntington Airport was a white and black Diamond DA40, this plane is used for training pilots in modern flying technology. UVU's Aviation Science Program has 170 employees and more than 2,000 degree-seeking students learning locally or online throughout the world. The University has three different types of aircraft for students to fly.
Marqui Moss after returning from her ride in a plane said, it was very exciting. It was so much fun as we flew out over the desert and Huntington. I love flying, the most exciting part was when the plane rapidly lost altitude and for a moment I was weightless, floating in the air, held down by the seat belt. Fifty-five young people took advantage of the chance to fly in a plane Oct. 2.
Everyone seemed to have a great time at this event, looking at planes, talking to pilots, listening to flying stories and watching planes take off and land.