Developments around the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
I’ve been doing flight training down at Glendale Airport for the past few weeks, working on my Instrument Rating at Silver State Helicopters. Two or three times a week, I drive or fly down there in the afternoon, spend a few hours sitting in a simulator trailer with a flight instructor, and fly or drive home.
The drive is long and boring. I found the best route though, thanks to my friends Ray and Robbie: Grand Avenue to Litchfield Road to Glendale Avenue to the airport. I can do it in just over an hour sometimes. It’s about 50 miles each way.
Glendale Airport is just 3 miles or so from the University of Phoenix Stadium, where Super Bowl XLII will be held this Sunday. The other day, while waiting for the Glendale Tower controller to clear me across the runway, I overflew the stadium area. The grass was outside, looking rich and green. The top of the stadium was closed. A ferris wheel was under construction in the parking lot on the west side of the stadium and there were lots of party tents and other things going up.
The Super Bowl is apparently Glendale‘s chance at the “big time” and they’re doing everything they can to make it a big party.
At the airport, things are also changing. Glendale Aviation, which had been the FBO there for years, expanded its building and added a corporate hangar large enough to accommodate three small jets. (At least that’s how it looks to me.) It’s now called LuxAir — I guess you need a foo-foo name to attract football fans arriving by jet. Of course, since it’s the only real FBO there, there’s no competition at the airport. It’ll probably make enough money this weekend to cover the cost of the building addition and more. But it couldn’t have been timed any better; crews are probably putting on the finishing touches inside as I type this.
Last week, the ramp was completely full of small airplanes, like Cessnas and Pipers. Apparently, the guy who owns the hangars and shades evicted everyone while doing some upgrades, then raised the rents beyond what local pilots were willing to pay. Few planes went back. I guess their owners would rather roast their wings in the hot Arizona sun. But yesterday, the ramp was almost empty. They’d moved all the little planes under the shades or to the more remote parts of the ramp, leaving plenty of room for incoming jets. Even the DC3 that had been sitting there for months (if not years) had been towed to the far reaches of the airport ramp, tucked into a spot between the hangars and perimeter fence like a broken down truck in someone’s yard.
Inside the terminal, the lobby area’s furniture — a mixture of chairs and tables normally used by one of the flight schools for training and briefing — have been removed. In their place are leather chairs and tables, arranged in little chat groups. I can’t tell you how comfortable they are because I don’t know. They’ve roped the whole thing off with yellow caution tape so no one sits on them until the big money starts arriving. I’m willing to bet that next week, when I return, all that nice furniture is gone.
It’s almost as if Glendale Airport is putting on airs, like Scottsdale Airport.
Glendale Airport’s restaurant, which had been closed for months, reopened last week. It’s the same old place, but with new owners. I haven’t eaten there, so I can’t rate it. I’m sure they expect to do a good business over the weekend. Rumor has it that they’re going to do a buffet. Rumor also leads me to believe that they’re doing a buffet because they can’t deal with table service and they’re taking the easy way out.
Yesterday was my last afternoon at Glendale Airport until after the big event. I canceled Friday’s lesson so I could get an early start out to my weekend gig in Parker, AZ, chasing race vehicles around a desert racetrack with a film crew on board. Wickenburg is one of two area airports outside the 30-mile TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction) that’ll kick in around Glendale on Sunday afternoon, before the game, so even if I get back late on Sunday afternoon, I don’t have to worry about landing at my home base.
But I doubt whether Wickenburg will see the big jets. There’s plenty of room at Glendale and, thanks to the inability of Wickenburg’s Airport Consultants and Manager to plan for the future, only two jet parking spaces at Wickenburg Airport.
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