UCAP Back-Taxi: Episode 1

(One of the things I want to do in the blog is to celebrate UCAP’s longevity by revisiting some past episodes and following up on some of the stories.  As you can see, I’m labeling these retrospective posts “UCAP Back-Taxi”.  Hope you like them – comments welcomed!)  

I recently gave a re-listen to Episode 1 of the podcast – “First Flight”, dated 24 August, 2006.  Of course, it wasn’t yet known as the Uncontrolled Airspace Podcast, but that came soon thereafter.   

It was an impressive first effort, and it’s interesting after five years and 250 episodes now to go back and see that the same group dynamic we’re so used to in the virtual hangar was evident right from the start.  

Two items struck my fancy for follow-up:  

A New Airport:
The boys talked about a community’s decision to replace their existing airport with a new and improved facility created almost entirely from scratch. They remarked on it as a rare event in this age of airport encroachment and closure.  The community was St. George, in southwestern Utah.  I decided to find out what came of that decision.

The good news: They did it!  They followed through, got the funding, made the tough decisions, and got it done.  They understood the economic value of their airport, and realized that the old location couldn’t handle the expansion that was desired, so they built one that was bigger and better.  The new St. George Municipal Airport opened earlier this year, after four years of construction, and what the mayor describes as a 20-year process. Picture of new terminal at KSGU

They are justifiably proud of this new facility and its completion. The airport homepage linked above includes a photo-gallery of the four-year construction project, and an “About” page that outlines the differences between the old and new SGU. 

It’s so new in fact, that Google Maps still shows only the abandoned FAA strip that occupied the site previously.  At some point this will change, of course!

Granted, this monumental task might have been easier to accomplish in this more open region of the country than it would have been along a densely populated coast, but it’s still a rare recognition by a community of the positive benefits of its airport as an engine of economic growth. 

The Sorry State of Flight Training Businesses:
This was just the first time we all heard the boys discuss the declining pilot population, and in particular, the poor business practices of many flight schools.  These included uninviting premises and personnel, and decrepit-looking old beater training aircraft. 

Well, we all know that those problems haven’t been solved in the last five years, so it was with some irony that in Episode 251 the gang discussed the creation (five years later, almost to the day) of a new accreditation program for flight schools.Logo for Flight School Association of North America 

The Flight School Association of North America (FSANA) has announced “the first flight school accreditation program in the history of flight training”.  Its stated purpose for accreditation is to “maintain the highest standards for flight schools with respect to industry business practices and professionalism”.

Check back with me in five years to see how this works out!


One Comment

  1. Flyer333 says:

    Hey Jeff,

    Great job on the UCAP Back-Taxi initiative. I think it’s a wonderful idea to follow up on some of the stories that the gang discussed in past episodes. In addition, the posts will serve as a memory lane for the show ( and hosts) we’ve all come to love and respect.