by Yasmina Platt
Published in Midwest Flyer – December 2018/January 2019 issue
You may have noticed that the Beehive State, Utah, is pushing a strong tourism campaign. They have good reasons to. The state has sooo much to offer; they truly have something for everybody. And I really like their tag line – Life Elevated®.
Everybody likes to be elevated when the word means “exalted, joyful.” Then, some of us (including you, since you are reading this magazine) like to feel elevated when the word has a physical meaning: “raised up, especially above the ground or above the normal level.” So, Life Elevated® to me means a “lifted life,” a life full of happiness, excitement, traveling, adventures, flying, etc. And I like the sound of all of that.
My husband and I recently visited southern Utah as part of a wonderful trip to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary and we can attest that “Life Elevated®” does mean all of that I mentioned. Even though this was a ground-based trip where we did a lot of hiking, canyoning, camping, biking, Jeeping, etc., I couldn’t resist and had to get airborne. After calling multiple instructors, Joey with Aviation Services Group at St. George Regional Airport (KSGU) squeezed me into his schedule to get a checkout in their C-172.
St. George is a good hub; it’s “a stone’s throw” from all kind of places and activities, but one can be in the area for weeks and not see and do everything on the bucket list. So, one good way to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time is to fly over it all!
During our 1.8-hour flight, we saw all the towns around it, several state parks, multiple wilderness areas, other important (man-made and natural) features and, of course, the majestic Zion National Park. We also landed at the Mesquite (67L) airport in addition to KSGU.
A previous blog I wrote, Flying to National Parks (https://airtrails.weebly.com/other/flying-to-national-parks), shares good tips for things to consider when flying over and around federal, protected land. The most basic is… fly at least 2,000 feet over as suggested by Advisory Circular 91-36D, VFR Flight Near Noise-Sensitive Areas.
Soon after departing KSGU, we could see Sand Hollow State Park, a favorite for us “Jeepers,” and two GA airports in Hurricane: private airstrip community Grassy Meadows/Sky Ranch (UT47) and Stout Airport (1L8). We did not land at either, but Joey told me Stout is a bit sporty with their higher elevation and shorter runway that has a higher middle section, making it impossible for pilots on one side of the runway to see the opposite end.
Then, we were over Highway 9, the Zion to Mt. Carmel Highway, and by the beautiful town of Springdale with Zion surrounding it. The views of Zion were outstanding during late afternoon.
I also found Lambs Knoll along Kolob Road, a great area for climbing and canyoneering/canyoning (of which we took great advantage of). And, believe it or not, we saw quite a few volcanoes. Thankfully, they are either dormant or extinct; however, we could see dried up lava everywhere from when they were active. It was quite impressive to see it amongst the rest of the landscape, especially with the pretty fall colors.
Then we were off towards Pine Valley Mountain and Snow Canyon State Park, although unfortunately, we could not see much of this state park because the combination of the sunset and the terrain to the west kept the park mostly in the shade/dark. But, we could see both St. George Airports (the old and the new) pretty clearly. One has to be careful (and trust the instruments) to ensure a successful landing at the right airport.
I particularly enjoyed Mesquite Airport (67L), across the border in Nevada. The instructor wanted us to come here because it was a challenging airport, but I did not find the challenge…just its beauty.
And, now with the sun behind us, the sunset showcased some beautiful mountains on our return flight from Mesquite to St. George. Back at KSGU, one should visit the Western Sky Aviation Warbird Museum.
Visit multiple airports and aviation museums in Utah, participate in the “Fly Utah” challenge, and earn prizes (decals, hats, patches, and even a flight jacket!). Learn more at https://www.udot.utah.gov/main/f?p=100:pg:0:::1:T,V:5115.
So, there, elevate your life, visit Utah! The tourism website www.visitutah.com has fantastic resources for non-flying-related things to do. To see more pictures of the flight, visit www.airtrails.weebly.com under “U.S. Destinations.”
P.S. KSGU will be closed for a few months in 2019 to allow for the reconstruction of the runway. Always check NOTAMS prior to departure. Landing at the old airport is not an option!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Yasminia Platt has been with the international airport planning and development consulting firm AECOM since 2016. She also writes an aviation travel blog called “Air Trails” (www.airtrails.weebly.com), in addition to articles on “Pilot Destinations” for Midwest Flyer Magazine. Pilots can locate articles Yasmina Platt has written by going to www.MidwestFlyer.com and typing in her name in the search box.