The holiday season always seems bring about a period of reflection for me and I know many others. So, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on the past year at the airport.
First, I cannot believe how fast this past year flew by … it seems like only yesterday my wife and I were planning for our first Christmas as new residents of the Wood River Valley. And last season’s winter … looking back at the pictures, there was an awful lot of white stuff on the ground in mid-December. And then came Christmas Eve. I recall us getting almost a foot and half of snow at the airport, and it never seemed to stop from that point forward. The airport operations team worked a lot of hours last winter to keep us operational in some tough conditions.
On the air service front, on December 17 of last year, we welcomed the inaugural Alaska Airlines flight from Portland, kicking off our new Portland service and sixth non-stop city served from SUN. And with a few bumps in road initially, Alaska Airlines implemented their new instrument approach procedures which greatly improved the reliability and access to the airport during a very tough winter. On June 30, we saw the new Embraer E-175 next-generation regional jet start service at SUN with United Airlines, and it has since become quite the hit with passengers. And, in just over a week on December 23, an E-175 will touch down at SUN from Chicago for the first time, increasing our air service reach to seven non-stop cities.
Our annual July fly-in event was one of the busiest ever. And I recall an event on August 21 where it got dark for a few minutes that mid-morning. What was that? Oh, that’s right, the words I swore I’d never say again — the Great American Eclipse. The six-day period leading up to and after the event was one of our busiest periods in airport history. Overall, a lot of aircraft and visitors flew into and out of the airport safely this past winter and summer.
In September, the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority Board (FMAA), always striving to make the airport better, approved a significant capital improvement project to add a new aircraft parking space on our air carrier apron and a major reconfiguration of our parking lot and airport access. While the project won’t start until this next spring, our customers will benefit from some substantial improvements, especially to our access and parking. Stay tuned.
Lastly, and most important, Tyler Peterson, one of our Operations Specialists, found out in August that his daughter Devon’s leukemia had relapsed. You might recall hearing of Devon’s battle against this horrible disease a few years ago. Tough like her dad, Devon has once again proved she’s a fighter. I’m happy to report that after a bone marrow transplant in November, Devon is recovering well and has been given a very positive outlook by her doctors.
It is things like this that put life in perspective. Yes, we all have our jobs to do and daily stresses of life to deal with. However, at the end of the day, life offers no guarantees. In this day and age of go, go, go and so much negativity, it’s easy to let life slip past without realizing what really matters, such as our health, family and friends. More and more I find myself taking time out of the daily grind to remind myself of this. Hope you can too.
And with that, from the FMAA/airport family, Happy Holidays to you. We wish you a happy, healthy, peaceful, and safe holiday season with your family and friends. Talk to you in 2018.
SUN Airport Manager