At precisely 1:22 p.m., the first United Airlines direct flight between San Francisco and Sun Valley landed under bluebird Idaho skies amid much hoopla. Emissaries from the Sun Valley Resort, local government officials and oodles of well-wishers gathered in the lobby of Friedman Memorial Airport to greet the inaugural flight. Rosé champagne flowed, cake was cut and there were smiles all around.
On the tarmac, 52 passengers de-planed amid cheers, flashbulbs and a very warm welcome. Travelers got in the spirit, waving as they walked down the stairs and embracing the rock-star reception. To celebrate, passengers were given gift bags full of goodies donated by local businesses and waiting for baggage was a delight as arriving visitors were serenaded by music from Wood River High School choir.
Sun Valley Resort Company Manager Tim Silva, Pam Snow from SkyWest Airlines, Jameson Ano from United Express, Ron Fairfax, chairman of the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority and Eric Seder, president of the nonprofit Fly Sun Valley Alliance, marked the occasion by cutting a huge red ribbon once the wheels were down.
On December 12, Sun Valley Company issued the statement: “[It] a new era in air service into Sun Valley … This marks the first new airline carrier into Sun Valley in the past 20 years and is the first ever jet service serving the Resort.”
Trip Nabors of Ketchum was among the throng, awaiting the arrival of a friend on this inaugural flight. He praised the new ease of travel between the two cities, noting that the additional service allowed a good friend to easily get to Sun Valley to celebrate his wife’s birthday.
For locals, the arrival of the United Express 66-seat CRJ 700 jet, was also exciting. Lisa Marie Allen and Peter Hendricks of Sun Valley toasted incoming passengers as they themselves prepared to hop on the first returning flight to San Francisco to enjoy a long weekend getaway to the City by the Bay. Upon arrival in the Bay Area, Lisa Marie sent the following message: “The flight was fabulous! The champagne continued to flow. Cheers!”
This flight will operate daily through March 30 for the 2013-2014 winter season, and resume July 2 through September 23 for the summer.
With Sun Valley this week being named as one of the Top 10 U.S. destinations by Lonely Planet on its annual list, it’s no wonder San Franciscans flocked to the area on this first flight. After all, there truly is no place like Sun Valley.
Welcome San Francisco! We are happy you are here!