Sanpete fly-in draws good crowds
By Ken Hansen
EPHRAIM—Speaking about the economic importance of rural airports at the Ephraim-Manti Airport fly-in event Saturday, Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said rural airports provide millions of dollars of economic benefits to the counties they serve.
According to Cox, a 2004 study of general aviation, which does not include commercial flights, put the direct and indirect value of aviation in Utah at about $250 million.
“That’s now at least half a billion dollars if not more,” he said. The Ephraim-Manti airport was at the time calculated to be worth $1 million a year in economic benefits to the county and is probably worth closer to $2 million a year now.
Airport Board Chairman Jeremy Hallows, who also pilots the jet owned by Ephraim’s Tom Bailey, stated that the current growth rate of the airline industry requires more than 40 new pilots a day. Currently, only 10 per day are being trained.
“I think Sanpete County can be part of that growth,” Hallow said. When Hallows started flying, pilots for regional airlines were paid around $22,000 a year, but that pay has since increased to around $80,000 a year because of the shortage. “So it’s a good time to be in aviation,” he said.
Flight schools from Southern Utah University and Utah Valley University were on hand with some of their training aircraft. They were there to recruit for their flight schools; participants were allowed to tour the aircraft and take pictures.
Visitors were also able to tour the AirMed air ambulance and an Ephraim City fire truck. Those who felt a little more adventurous were able to climb in to a hot air balloon basket and operate the burner, which heats the air inside of a balloon.