Several hundred people stood in bright sunshine on a windless day, cheering and applauding as the commercial jet airliner landed at Prescott Regional Airport at 1:20 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 29.
When the CRJ200 jet taxied down the runway to the terminal, it passed under a “water arch” provided by the Prescott Fire Department to mark the event.
Cheers were even louder as the first passengers — Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli and his wife Sheila — disembarked from the flight from Denver. They were on a 50-passenger United Express plane operated by SkyWest Airlines.
They were followed by several others, including City Councilman Steve Sischka and his wife Kathie and Prescott City Manager Michael Lamar.
Mengarelli earlier said of the flight, “This air service, with daily flights to Denver and six days a week to Los Angeles International, is a game-changer for Central and Northern Arizona.”
Prior to the jet’s arriving, those celebrating crowded together in the small airport terminal, where they heard city, county, state and federal officials praise the new air service.
Arrival of the SkyWest/United Express flight marks the first time since March 26 that the area has had commercial air service. That was the day Great Lakes Airlines suspended service.
Virtually everyone who spoke during the preflight arrival celebration praised Robin Sobotta, who has been the airport manager this past year.
She was a key figure in negotiating with the Federal Aviation Administration and other state and federal agencies to bring back commercial flights to the community.
Prescott Mayor Pro Tem Billie Orr told the crowd crammed into the terminal, “Today, this airport has a new name. Yesterday, during our City Council meeting, we approved a name change from Prescott Municipal Airport to its new name — Prescott Regional Airport-Ernest A. Love Field.”
She also said the City has approved $500,000 to begin planning and expanding a new modern terminal and related facilities.
The jammed-in-crowd roared and applauded approval.
Orr also thanked the Prescott Chamber of Commerce for helping organize the day’s festivities.
When Sobotta spoke, she praised several former mayors for their aggressiveness and persistence. “Without the vision of past mayors like Rowle Simmons, Marlin Kuykendall and Harry Oberg, today wouldn’t be happening. Harvey Skoog from Prescott Valley was equally supportive.”
Sobotta also commended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Chancellor Frank Ayers, his colleagues and students. “ERAU has given Prescott and the area a visibility in the aviation industry that many communities envy.”
Following the initial celebration and the landing and disembarkation of passengers, staff from SkyWest and United Express processed Prescott passengers taking the second leg of the flight.
Smiling and waving to the crowd as they boarded for the 2 p.m. flight — from Prescott to LAX.
Mengarelli said, “Our new flight opportunities will let us connect to travel the globe.”