On Thursday morning, the Ogden-Hinckley Airport received its first commercial flight. Passengers were met by a crowd of people, including Weber State University cheerleaders, student government and members of the Ogden community welcoming them to Utah.
The plane came from Phoenix, Ariz., on an Allegiant Air flight and landed around 8:40 a.m. The WSU cheerleaders and student government were there when the plane landed as a surprise welcoming.
“What we do at Allegiant is we look for airports that are underserved, that don’t have a lot of air service and where we think there might be a demand for vacationers, and Ogden fit that mold,” said Keith Hansen, the director of airports for Allegiant.
The plane had a few Allegiant representatives on the flight, but it was mostly filled with regular passengers coming to Utah. Another plane left Utah for Arizona at 12:40 p.m.
“There is a strong sense of community in Ogden; Ogden has a number of outstanding things to do here,” said Hansen about why Allegiant chose Ogden.
Elizabeth Moreno was on the flight coming to Utah to visit her sister, who just had a baby. Like the other passengers, Moreno did not know there would be a crowd waiting at the airport.
“It was crazy; we could see them out the windows,” Moreno said. “(The airport staff) were telling us to smile for the camera, and I said, ‘What?’”
Some of the passengers waved at the cameras as they passed by.
Dawn Christopher, who was on the flight, came to Utah for the first time on the flight.
“It was more exciting than I expected,” Christopher said. “I’m really glad I put on makeup on today.”
Christopher came to Utah to visit her daughter Amber.
“Ogden is a world-class recreation destination,” said Ogden City Mayor Mike Caldwell at the reception afterward. “This is going to be a game-changer for our tourism industry here, and we are absolutely thrilled.”
After a few speeches, there was also a ribbon-cutting ceremony. There was also a free breakfast, and Allegiant gave people a chance to win two free plane tickets. The radio station 97.1 was also there.
Indie Ogden staff members were at the reception, passing out flyers to advertise their blog. Indie Ogden is a blog about events happening in Ogden, as well as spotlights on local restaurants and bands. The “best of Ogden” blog is holding a contest to celebrate its second anniversary.
“We’re really excited about the flight,” said Mikaela Shafer, the founder of the blog. “We all have family in Arizona, and the flights are all so cheap.”
To set up a commercial flight between two cities, the city council, the mayor and the airport director work to create an airport that will work for commercial flights. To get ready for commercial flights, the airport had to make renovations to its terminal, and it had to get the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration involved.
“We are hoping this leads to more commercial flights,” said Peter Makowski, the project coordinator.
He said that, if they have a successful airline, it will attract more airlines to the airport.
“It’s a pretty exciting time for Ogden,” Makowski said.