Payson Airport Saves Lives



I am writing in response to the fellow who wrote, "The Payson Airport is for the rich playboys, and of no value to the Town of Payson."

I came to Payson April Fools' Day 1977 and started a flight school, charter and scenic flight service. I managed the airport from 1978 to 1992. I started the Cross Winds Restaurant, had some fuel tanks put in the ground for aircraft to get fuel and oversaw numerous expansions to the airport. The tie down and hanger fees bring money into the Town of Payson.

I have checked the number of inbound and outbound flights to Payson Airport -- around 30,000 operations per year if you figure the average aircraft that comes to Payson airport is a four-place aircraft and each passenger will spend at least $35 in the town and at the airport in food, fuel, motel and car rental. This works out to 30,000 X $35 = $1,050,000 brought into the Town of Payson and contributed to the economy of the Town of Payson.

When Highway 87 was washed out for weeks in the 1980s and snow was so deep that no one could get in or out of Payson by car, guess who brought people in and out of Payson. You are right. We flew them in and out. I flew many flights to Phoenix and back.

Your bank papers are brought to Payson by aircraft; your blood samples are flown in and out; air ambulance for medical problems are flown in and out. I had an air ambulance call me on the radio and ask me if I could get some oxygen for them as they had a child that needed some. I called the Payson Fire Department and was able to get a bottle for them and saved the child's life.

A twin engine at night lost an engine and the Payson Airport saved the aircraft and passengers by being there. I could go on and on about the lives saved because the airport was here. How about the aircraft tankers that put out the fires that almost burned the Town of Payson?

What do I get out of this? The love of flying and helping people. I have taught over 100 people to fly from 1977 to 2006, and some of my former students are flying the air carriers that fly you all over the country.

Payson has always been a pro-aviation town. Aero Drive, Airline Drive and Main Street were all runways for aircraft back in the days when it took eight hours and two spare tires to come to Payson. You say, "The airport has no value." Give me a break.

Thank goodness that Payson has a great airport and will continue to have a place for all these life-saving things and, yes, for private pilots to come to Payson to have breakfast at the Cross Winds and buy homes.

Richard L. Henry, Payson Air

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