By Connor Barrett & Armon Haghighat
A wonderful group of aviators and their guests joined us on December 9th at the Grand Canyon National Park Airport (KGCN) for a day filled with tours, history, and great conversation with fellow aviators.
The brisk morning started off with marshaling planes into the ramp, and transporting the fly-in guests to the KGCN fire station. At the KGCN firehouse, introductions, goals for the day, and an AZ Pilot Life gear giveaway took place. After the guests signed in, filled out safety forms, and snacked on a donut, we started our first tour of the day! Grand Canyon Airport Manager Matt Smith gave a very detailed tour of the Airport Fire Station. We learned about the amount of time and effort put forth by the fire station to help provide safety for the KGCN airport. Responding to incidents and clearing the runway and ramp of 60 plus inches of annual snowfall are some of the large tasks that the KGCN Airport fire crew are responsible for. The fire station team started up and demonstrated what their 1 million dollar fire-fighting vehicle can do. This advanced piece of machinery can be operated by one person and can shoot a precise stream or a broad-spectrum of water or foam to extinguish any type of fire.
Eager to reach the South rim of the Grand Canyon, the guests loaded into the vans and were driven to the historic El Tovar Lodge. A delicious lunch, inspired by Southwest flavors, was enjoyed as the aviators and guests discussed their favorite flying stories and aviation background. Having finished lunch, we had roughly 45 minutes to explore the Lodge and surrounding buildings before our next tour began.
After admiring the old architecture, the beautiful designs on the walls of the Lodge, and the well-stocked gift shop, we all met in the circle drive of the El Tovar Lodge. United States National Park Ranger Jillian Staurowsky gave us a very in-depth and knowledgeable tour of the Grand Canyon. She covered the history of the buildings on the South rim, the geological history of the Grand Canyon, different animals living in the Canyon, and the famous aviation history related to the Canyon. All of this in just over an hour!
With the afternoon upon us, and the return trip home in the back of our minds, we took a group picture on the South rim. After thanking Jillian and loading the guests into the vans, we drove back to the KGCN airport with smiles on our faces! A day full of activities, meeting new aviators, and seeing so many wonderful things, the day just flew by! Once returning to the KGCN airport, we said our goodbyes, completed the pre-flight inspection on our planes, and returned to our respective home airports.
A special thank you to our guests and everyone who helped make this fly-in possible! Thank you to the Grand Canyon Airlines FBO Manager Charles Townsend, Jillian Staurowsky, Matt Smith, the Arizona Pilots Association Board Members and AZ Pilot Life. This event would not have been possible without the collaboration of these people! A flyer for the next fly-in will be released in the near future. For more photos, visit azpilotlife.com!