Bryce Airport's Vital Role
In this remote region, with major hospitals and airfields hundreds of miles away, Bryce Airport provides critical emergency support. Built in 1936 as an emergency landing strip for commercial airlines, the airport has served that purpose twice since then. In 2005, American Airlines Flight 28, with more than 50 passengers on board, lost all engine power and safely landed here. Bryce Airport is also the main staging area for local search-and-rescue operations and fire management.
At 7,400 feet long, Bryce Airport's runway is unusually long for a small airport. That's both because it is designed to receive commercial aircraft and because of the high elevation of the runway (7,586 feet). Air is thinner at higher altitudes, providing less lift for airplanes. Heat further thins the air, forcing some small planes to avoid mid-day take-offs here during the summer.
Bryce Airport Hangar
Built in 1936, the airport's hangar was funded by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which provided jobs for unemployed Americans during the Great Depression. WPA funding required matching work contributions from local communities, so local county commissioners designed the hangar and supervised construction. Built of native ponderosa pine, the hangar is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Each year, thousands of tourists arrive by air at this historic airport to see Bryce Canyon National Park.
Fire on the Plateau
Fires are a natural part of life here on the Paunsaugunt Plateau. When fires start in the region - whether by lightning, accident, or prescribed burn - the airport serves as a staging area for fire monitoring and management, as it did in 2002 during the 78,000-acre Sanford fire in Dixie National Forest.