UTAH'S DIXIE HISTORICAL SITES
A27-AVIATION HISTORIC ARROW (SUP #130)
GPS 37.065090 113.595923
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|HISTORIC AVIATION ARROW||AVIATION PIONEER
DR. CREED EVANS
DEDICATION OF MONUMENT TO EARLY AVIATION HISTORY
Sidney J. Atkin MAY 23, 2007
I like History and am excited to be part of this occasion because of its significance to flying and to St. George.
An English author and historical novelist Lytton Bulwer said, "strike from mankind the principle of faith, and men would have no more history than a flock of sheep."
This 50 foot concrete arrow and those placed ten miles apart demonstrates the faith of those in the 1920̓s promoting the aviation industry.
April 28, of this year I visited the Smithsonian (National Air & Space Museum Hanger at Dulles Airport). On display is a Western Air Express airplane like you see on this monument.
I appreciate the opportunity to tell the "Readers Digest version", early history of aviation in St. George.
The first airplane to land in St. George was in early 1920. Joe Milne advertised in the newspaper and got a good crowd for the occasion. The biplane landed in a farmers field a few blocks south of the temple. On landing the radiator was damaged. By the time the leak was repaired there was no time for Joe to get the free ride he had been promised.
A few months later an airplane landed in the east part of the valley among the sage that had been cleared off. Hy Atkin won the draw for a $10 ride, thus claiming the distinction of taking the first airplane ride. In 1923 at the Dixie Carnival held in the area of what is now the Dixie Sun Bowl, airplane rides were $5 for 30 minute
In 1924 two emergency dirt airfields were graded for a future mail route. One was west of little Valley along the road leading to the Arizona Strip and the other was seven miles south east of St. George. On June 23, 1948 the latter one became the CAA airport and will be the future airport for St. George.
In the late 1920, Maurice Graham, a Western Air Express mail pilot, was forced down by low clouds, and landed his plane on a straightaway racetrack on the Black hill. He told the city fathers this would be a good place to build an airport. It has been said that an expert is a fellow from out of town, and now that the ‘powers that be̓ received an expert's opinion they decided to build their airport on the Black hill. Mr. Graham died in January 1930 near Kanarraville, after he was forced down by a blizzard.
The present airport was begun in early 1930̓s with the grading of two runways. There was a windsock and a beacon light, but no reliable landing lights. At night, airplanes would circle the airfield until some one would drive upon the hill and shine their car lights down the runway.
In 1930 two local boys, Robert Pickett and Don Bleak soloed off the Black hill in an American eagle airplane. They called it the "Eagle Rock" because it flew like an Eagle and landed like a rock.
The arrival of airmail to St. George, in 1938, was cause for celebration. The first incoming mail was presented to Postmaster Will Brooks. William Atkin, as one of the oldest citizens of the community, rode to the airport on horseback to deliver the first bag of outgoing mail.
In 1940, the main runway was blacktopped and a small hangar and terminal building constructed. The airport was dedicated on May 10, 1940.
In 1981 the city built a modern terminal building and in 1991 more than doubled it's size.
In January 1958 Bonanza Airlines began scheduled service with a 28 passenger DC-3. The service was discontinued September 24, 1960 for lack of passengers and freight.
June 19, 1972 Ralph Atkin set in motion Skywest with its first flight between St. George and Salt Lake City. The airfare was $59 for a round trip. They flew 256 passengers that year. Skywest was motivated to succeed and had faith that St. George would support the airline. After a shaky start and attempts to sell and give away the airline but with increased involvement of family members and friends a reorganization, took place. Jerry Atkin was appointed President and CEO. The rest is history. This family owned the home grown company, now a public company flies 270 airplanes to 233 cities, with 2520 daily departure.
The history of aviation in St. George is much like the history of aviation throughout the world, it is a catalyst for economic growth and development and it provides a vital link to the world.
MONUMENT DEDICATION PROGRAM
DEDICATION PRAYER Offered by Hal G. Anderson, President Bloomington Utah Stake
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