If you were listening to the airport frequency on Friday you would have heard. "This is Sky Queen One over the Tonto Natural Bridge." "This is Sky Queen two."
Miss Rodeo Arizona and 11 rodeo queens from states throughout the country went for an airplane ride on Friday. The visiting rodeo queens got a chance to see beautiful Payson from the air.
"Each year it is a highlight of each girl's time in Payson" Nancy Landino, the coordinator for this rodeo royalty event told the pilots.
After the ride, Miss Florida said, "Arizona is my favorite place. I never knew it was so beautiful."
This flying event was started eight years ago by Sandra and Tom Butler.
Pilots from the Payson Pilots Association always enjoy taking the rodeo queens to the air. Ned Hines, president of the PPA told the queens. "We don't need an excuse to fly, but you make it special."
Breakfast followed the plane rides at the Crosswinds restaurant courtesy of Darla and the Payson Regional Airport Authority. Mayor-elect Kenny Evans came by to send the rodeo queens off on their flight. Personally autographed pictures from the rodeo queens were given to each pilot to say "Thank you."
"This was my first time and it was awesome." said Miss Wyoming, flying with pilot, Bill Day.
Miss Rodeo Queen New Mexico went up with Russ Hustead in the motor glider "I felt like a bird. When the motor was turned off, it was so calm. It was awesome."
Flying with pilot Ned Hines, Miss Rodeo Arizona repeated. "Payson traffic, 181 Alpha Charlie, I'll never forget that."
Bill Day coordinated the flying event. Jon Barber, Jim Garner, Rich Henry, Ned Hines, Russ Hustead, Jerry Lynch, Ernie Pritchard, Eric Ward and Ron Ward were the pilots for the rodeo queens. You could tell from their smiles that they, too enjoyed this special flight.