SLAC members tour Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport


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By Gary Vacin


          Eleven Sun Lakes Aero Club (SLAC) members participated in a field trip to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Jan. 25.

           Patrick Oakley, director of community relations for the airport, hosted the group.  Following breakfast at the Flight Deck Café, the group toured the airport’s tower.  There members viewed a number of take-offs and landings of aircraft ranging from Cessna 172s to U.S. Air Force tanker jets shooting touch and goes. Tower personnel briefed the visitors on air traffic control procedures. The tower handles approximately 500 operations each day.


          Following the tower experience, the visitors boarded a shuttle and toured the base, viewing many private and military aircraft.  Even though one million people live within a half-hour drive of the airport, many don’t know the airport exists, Oakley told the group.


          Oakley described many of the numerous tenants on the base, including three  commercial airlines – Allegiant, Spirit, and Frontier --  plus several flight schools, government operations,  air ambulance services,  and the Cessna maintenance facility.


          SLAC members participating included John Fritz, Tom Smith, Richard Beek, Cannon Hill,  Jim Theobald, Richard Simmons, Steve Perkins, Gary West, Earl Cuyler, Ted Nelson and Gary Vacin.


          Now in its 17th year, SLAC sponsors numerous field trips and fly-ins each year.  The club gathers the third Monday of each month from November to April at the Sun Lakes Country Club Mirror Room for presentations by guest speakers on  interesting aviation-related topics.  The public is invited to attend all gatherings. 0201


          Additional information on the club is available from Bob Walch at 895-8869 or Gary Vacin at 298-7017, or by viewing the group’s web site,