Summer is going by fast…
Our annual fly-in event has come and gone. Hard to believe this was my third event already. I will never forget my very first official day on the job as the new airport manager in 2016 – the first day of this event. It was a great learning experience.
This year’s event took place July 10-15. Activity levels were similar to last year, which was our busiest ever. Overall, we had a very successful event. First and foremost, everything was safe. That is top priority. Second, our efforts to improve airspace flow at the airport are paying off. This was our smoothest flow ever with relatively few delays for both arriving and departing aircraft. One of our best gauges of success was the fact that zero air carrier passengers departing SUN missed connections the entire week. Several other flight crews commented how this was the first year they didn’t have to hold when inbound.
There is no doubt this event impacts the community from a noise standpoint. I was extremely pleased with the compliance with our voluntary noise abatement program this year. For those that are not aware, federal law requires our airport be available to the flying public 24/7/365. So, our Voluntary Noise Abatement Program is just that, voluntary. Our program hours are from 11 pm to 6 am. We prefer 7 am in the morning to coincide with our air traffic control tower hours and aircraft rescue firefighting crew availability. With that in mind, we had only a handful of operations before 7 am the entire week, and I do not believe any after 11 pm. A big thanks to Joe V. and his team from NetJets. I believe NetJets is the world’s largest fractional operator and they are a big users and an important customer of our airport, especially during this event. NetJets implemented a “no fly” policy for their aircraft to coincide with our preferred voluntary program hours. Joe’s stated goal was to be a good partner to the airport and a good neighbor to the community. To all the professional flight crews that brought this same mindset, thank you as well.
Overall, a big thank you to Greg Dyer with Jviation (our airspace consultant), our air traffic control tower staff, FAA Salt Lake Center Staff, Atlantic Aviation staff, our customers and guests, and of course, airport staff, for all the hard work and effort in making this another safe and successful event.
As many of you know, the airport was a base of operations for up to eight aerial firefighting aircraft including helicopters and fixed wing assets during the initial stages of the Sharps Fire. Due to the changing nature of the fire and the need for incident command to adjust tactics to fight the fire, most aircraft repositioned from SUN to the Carey or Picabo airports by the end of week one.
I was not here for the Beaver Creek Fire in 2013, but I certainly felt the anxiety and concern from the community as this fire developed. As Sheriff Harkins mentioned at the community meeting in Hailey, it is amazing to see how this community comes together in times like this. The Airport Board and staff are proud of the role the airport played in the early stages of the fire. This is a great example of a greater role an airport plays in the community. Many members of the community have commented to me how relieved they felt knowing fire crews where at the airport. For pilots, be advised there is still a large TFR in effect just east of the airport. There is still a significant amount of aerial firefighting activity to and from the TFR south of our airspace so please continue to keep your heads on a swivel.
We are not completely out of the woods yet with the fire, but a huge thank you to all the firefighters, local and otherwise, and incident command staff, for all your hard work and effort in fighting this fire. We all appreciate it.
Lastly, we are over the hump with our parking lot project. There is still some minor work to be done with signage and landscaping, but we are fully operational with the new parking lot equipment (including two exit lanes) and the new configuration. We are getting very positive feedback regarding the changes. Thanks for your patience during construction. Phase 2 of the project, which includes the expansion of the air carrier aircraft parking apron, will begin after Labor Day. There should be little impact to all of you.
I continue to enjoy getting to know members of the community and our airport. This month our feature is Mr. Dave Dingman, an airport tenant with a great story. Enjoy.
Hope you continue to enjoy your summer.