Pilots in Arizona are truly blessed. Not only do we have incredible flying weather nearly every day of the year, we have amazing destination airports that offer quick access to some remarkable attractions. Ernest A. Love Field in historic Prescott, Arizona, is one of these places.
Prescott lies deep in the pine forests of the Bradshaw Mountains and enjoys milder weather than the population centers of Phoenix or Tucson. Prescott is the epitome of the true Wild West in Arizona. Virgil Earp, Billy the Kid, and Katie “Big Nose Kate” Elder were residents of this original Old West town.
The town of Prescott was one of the early capitals of the Arizona Territory and was established in 1864. Three years later, the capital moved to Tucson, but the designation returned to Prescott in 1877. The town was officially incorporated in 1881. In 1889, the capital designation was moved to Phoenix.
Ernest A. Love Field, also known as Prescott Municipal Airport, serves Prescott and is located approximately 9 miles north of the city. Served by a pair of parallel and a crosswind runway, a control tower, and a comprehensive set of ILS, GPS, and VOR approaches, the municipal airport is easily accessible. While the city is home to only about 40,000 people, the airport is home to both Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and North-Aire Aviation flight schools. AirNav reports 729 operations per day on average and 314 aircraft based on the field! In addition to the flight schools, flight tours, and general aviation traffic, scheduled airline service to several cities in the Southwest is offered.
The approach to Prescott is straightforward from pretty much any direction, though the 5000’ elevation requires density altitude considerations. With a 7619’ x 50’ runway and a pair of 4400’ and 4800’ runways, there are multiple options available. Care should be taken to avoid Granite Mountain to the west, and several glider and hang glider ports to the east. Due to the extensive flight training activity, keep an active scan in all directions and altitudes.
As you near the airport, listen to ATIS on 127.2 and then contact Tower on 125.3. After landing, Ground will get you to parking near Legend Aviation, the FBO on the field. For pilots, Legend offers a pilot’s lounge, crew cars, flight planning equipment, newspapers, and television. At the time of this writing, self-serve and full-serve 100LL fuel are available at $5.19 and $5.69, respectively. Jet A is also available at $5.69 full-service. Legend also offers a full-service maintenance and avionics facility.
Once tied down and refreshed, use a crew car, or catch a taxi or an Uber/Lyft into town, and explore the many attractions that Prescott has to offer. A must-see in Prescott is historic Whiskey Row. This well-preserved slice of Wild West history is still alive today. Though the red-light district, gun-slinging saloons, and local outlaws are long gone, the buildings and ambiance remain. With 809 buildings in Prescott on the National Register of Historic Places, there will definitely be some amazing sights. Many boutiques, restaurants, ice cream shops, and antique shops now populate the store fronts. Yes, there are still many saloons to be found.
Continuing with the history theme, the Sharlot Hall Museum offers a remarkable collection of local memorabilia. Filled with Arizona’s rich history, it offers a unique glimpse into early life here in the desert. Admission is $9 for adults, with discounts for seniors, students, kids and military. An astounding collection of artifacts are resident in the museum’s collection and stories about Western life are depicted by professionally designed storyboards, with docents to answer any questions you may have.
Prescott’s Frontier Days and the World’s Oldest Rodeo are set to take the stage this coming July. Taking place since 1888, it is truly a marvel. The entire town becomes the stage for this event with parades, concerts, contests, and of course, the rodeo. Tickets start at $12 to see the rodeo, but many of the events in town surrounding the show are free. If you are planning to fly here for this event, plan ahead and reserve your lodging in advance.
With perhaps a nod to the outlaw past Prescott holds, there are several breweries, distilleries, wineries, and meaderies (making honey wines) that offer incredible local beverages for your passengers, or you, if your stay involves some overnight time. With so many to choose from, nearly any libation of choice can be found.
Once you’ve had your fill of history, eaten your fill, and tasted the local beverages, there are literally dozens of amazing hiking trails within just a few minutes of town to be explored. From hikes along lakes, up mountain trails, or through the forests, there is something to suit nearly every adventurous soul. Watson Lake, Thumb Butte Trail, Lynx Lake, Prescott Peavine National Recreation Trail, and the Constellation trails are just a few of the amazing hiking destinations.
Once you are done in town, say goodbye to the friendly folks at Legend Aviation, preflight, and contact Ground for your departure taxi. The flight home can be used to reminisce about the rich history, tantalizing food, and new friends you’re sure to have made. You’ll also likely be making plans to return in the near future!