Glendale Airport 30 years strong
The weather is changing along with the length of the day… this can only mean the holiday season is upon us. For aviation photojournalists, this also means that their air show and aviation event world, as a whole, becomes as quiet as a stone. This wind-down is good in some ways as it allows us to focus on local airports and hometown events. As I live in Glendale, AZ – this was just what I did in back in November of this year.
One such event was the 30th anniversary of the Glendale Airport. To locals who have been living in the West Valley of Phoenix for more than 30 years, this is still known as the New Glendale Airport, as the “old” airport was relocated back in 1986 from its original location a few miles to the north East.
The old location had become land locked for future runway expansion, so planers felt it time to relocate to a larger area. The old location is now a corporate warehouse and a track home neighborhood. But if you look close one can still see parts of the old runway and helipads that were once the home to many a private pilot, and a sacred place where so many had soloed and got their wings.
Things change, and it’s a good thing they did. Who would have ever thought that a rural town on the outskirts of Phoenix, AZ would someday become home to two major sports teams – the Arizona Coyotes NHL team and the Arizona Cardinals NFL team. Their West Gate Sports Complex is always hosting events up to and including Super Bowl XLII in 2008 and multiple Bowl games. The Glendale Airport is located just minutes from the action, and is the go-to airport for all the corporate high rollers that come to town for such events.
KGEU is categorized as a general aviation reliever airport, comprised of a single seven thousand one hundred and fifty foot by one hundred foot runway 1/19 at an elevation of one thousand seventy one feet above sea level. The seven hundred and twenty acre airport is city-owned and has three hundred and twelve pivately owned hangars. The one main terminal houses some flight schools, a ift shop,and a restaurant with outdoor ramp-side dining available. The airport had 81,639 operations – landings, takeoffs, and overflights last year. Ninety-eight percent of these operations were general aviation flights, one percent was air taxi, and another one percent was military. As mentioned above, the Glendale Airport can become a very busy place on event weekends and should be on any civil/corporate aircraft spotter/photographer’s list of places in Arizona to visit. But plan ahead as the best time is during major sports events.
When my friend and new airport administrator Ken Potts informed me of the upcoming open house, I was intrigued to say the least. I love to get back to the roots of my aircraft spotting history, and the local general aviation airports can do that.
The event, although small compared to presentations we normally cover, was one full of unique aircraft to say the least. The ramp was filled with general aviation aircraft, helicopters and kit aircraft – built and flown by tenants of the airport. As I live within blocks of the airport, as I was loading my gear into the car, the unique rotor “pop” of some heavy helicopters was heard, and the silhouette of a lone AH1F Cobra, from The Army Aviation Foundation Arizona Chapter, told me this might be a unique day.
The Cobra, along with a single UH-60L from Arizona Army National Guard’s 2nd Battalion 285th Aviation Regiment (Assault Helicopter) Unit, made up the military contingent on hand. Rounding out the helicopter side of the event was HALO 151 a Eurocopter AS-350B3 demonstrating some hovers and landings. Helicopter rides were also sold by CIVIL AIR SUPPORT LLC , Gold Coast Helicopters and Air West Aviation.
If helicopters are not your thing, you could purchase a ride in a WACO biplane, courtesy of SONORAN AEROPLANE COMPANY LLC.
The turnout was strong, and people enjoyed other events taking place that morning, including the Wings and Sneakers 5K Airstrip Run, which was a big hit as people young and old participated for awards and the right to say they “ran” the runway. The City of Glendale had many of its public works vehicle on hand for the people to view, fire trucks are always a big hit with kids young and old. With Glendale’s history of being a farming community, the ramp was also dominated with vintage tractors and single engine belt-driven motor pumps, some dating back to the 1900’s. The tractors and pumps ran the entire time I was there and sounded pretty good considering their age. This display was sponsored by the Arizona Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association.
The flying consisted of multiple helicopters, private aircraft and the WACO biplane. One treat was several passes by a beautifully restored 1959 PILATUS P3-05 aircraft. The mystery aircraft of the show award goes to the 2 unmarked MiGs parked on the ramp, just begging to be restored and flown. The MiG-21 and MiG-17 will hopefully make it back into the air and be enjoyed as the historic aircraft that they are.
All in all, this was a good turnout as far as the amount of people and aircraft, but wonder if more will show if this becomes a regular event?
Under the direction of airport manager Mr. Ken Potts and the Honorable Mayor Jerry Weiers (who is also an accomplished pilot and one who has flown out of this airport for many years), the sky ‘s the limit, so onward and upward Glendale Airport. Congratulation on thirty years of operations!