An update from Chris Pomeroy
Hard to believe we have almost reached the official end of summer with the Labor Day holiday upon us. As I previously discussed, it has been a busy summer at the airport.
The eclipse event has come and gone. I promise I won’t say anything else about it after this … while the vehicle traffic never materialized on our roads, we certainly saw our fair share of air traffic here at the airport. Unlike the eclipse itself that lasted about 2 ½ hours, we saw (and I know a lot of you heard) the effects of the event span nearly six days from roughly the evening of Thursday, August 18, through the evening of Tuesday, August 22. During this period, the only day with fewer than 200 operations (takeoff or landing) was Thursday with 165 operations, with the peak coming Monday, eclipse day, with the mass exodus at 290 operations. This six-day period was one of the busiest the airport has seen and even made the July fly-in event almost seem calm.
As I stated earlier, going in, we did not know what to expect other than it was going to be busy. Big planes, little planes, IFR, VFR, airlines passengers, lots of them, showed up. In trying to stay as prepared as we could before the day of the eclipse, we held numerous team meetings with the FAA regional air traffic representatives, including FAA Salt Lake Center, Atlantic Aviation, SUN Control Tower staff, and local airline and rental car staff. The goal of these meetings was to work as a team to share as much information as we could to implement a plan to ensure a safe and efficient airport for all users. Considering the amount and mix of air traffic, everyone did a spectacular job and all was safe.
From a noise abatement standpoint, I know we had several early morning and/or late-night operations. From my perspective, much of this was a function of a lot of new visitors to our airport who were unfamiliar with our voluntary noise abatement program. We did field a lot of calls about early and/or late operations, and with some education we were able to convince some (not all) to help reduce impacts on the community by following our voluntary program.
Like many of you, I am glad to have this behind us. The good news is, we now know what to expect for the next total solar eclipse that will be visible from Idaho on June 25, 2169 – I will be sure to pass along my notes to my successors.
A few highlights:
- 1,391 operations between Thursday, August 18, and Tuesday, August 22.
- SUN was a base for two Medivac helicopters requested by the Governor’s office from the Idaho Army National Guard.