SLC Passes Inspection with Flying Colors

Photo by James Udall

The Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) has completed its annual Part 139 Airport Operating Certification inspection for 2019 and passed with flying colors.  For the fourth consecutive year, SLC had zero write-ups.

Airport Operating Certifications exist to ensure safety at airports and in air transportation. Requirements to be certified differ based on the size of an airport and the types of flights available.

“This is a federal mandate that governs the certification of commercial airports around the nation,” said Al Stuart, assistant operations director for SLC. “It details all the rules we need to follow as an airport to stay certified.”

Part 139 establishes regulations and requirements for operating a commercial airport, set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). A Part 139 certified airport must have a FAA-approved Airport Certification Manual that includes detailed plans and procedures for snow removal, low visibility operations, emergencies, pavement maintenance, wildlife management and more.

“This inspection is important to us,” Stuart said. “It’s essentially a report card for airfield operations. When we’re able to pull off an inspection with zero write-ups, that means we’ve done our job.”

SLC prepares for the inspection by writing and developing the manual, which addresses each set of regulations and describes how the airport will maintain its 139 certification. This includes standards for training and personnel, in addition to airfield operations plans and procedures. The inspections occur annually, but the FAA can also make unannounced inspections.

“I have so much confidence in our team,” explained Stuart. “We’ve established a culture at SLC that enables us to keep the airport up to the FAA’s Part 139 standards year-round. The inspectors could show up at any time, and we like to always be as prepared as possible.”

Congratulations to SLC Operations for a job well done! To read more about FAA Part 139 Airport Certification, click here .

SLC’s Sign (Shop) of the Times

When Cory Lyman gets to work each morning, he knows that anything can come his way but has one main priority: safety.

Cory Lyman, Doug Worthen and Bruce Whitely of the SLCDA Sign Shop

“The first thing I think about is safety,” Cory said. “If someone is going to get hurt because there’s not a sign telling them where to go, or if a snowplow takes out a sign on the airfield, or anything that affects a passenger or the operations of the airport, these are my top priorities.”

As Salt Lake City International Airport’s (SLC) Sign Shop supervisor, Cory manages a staff of two and together they make all the printed magic happen at the airport.

One of the most challenging projects Cory and his staff have handled occurred just last year when SLC renamed its A and B concourses G and F. The reason for the

renaming was part of the transition to The New SLC Airport. When the first phase of The New SLC opens in 2020, the new concourses will be named A and B, so concourses in the existing facilities needed to be renamed in advance to avoid confusion.


Renaming the concourses was no small undertaking and took a tremendous amount of coordination, collaboration and strategic vision to pull off. It involved several departments and much more than simply switching over the internal signage to reflect the names of the new concourses—the airfield was repainted, legends on the airfield were remade and arrival and departure screens updated. Additionally, pilots were given about 90 days advanced notice about the forthcoming change.

“When we did the A to G switchover, we learned a lot—it took us about four hours to switch,” Cory said.  “When we did the B to F change a few months later, it was more than triple the amount of work, but we were done in an hour and a half.“

As a jacks-of-all-trades, the sign shop stays extremely busy. From making internal and external wayfinding signs to maintaining the vitally important legends on the runways, SLC’s sign shop has it covered.

What the sign shop does today is markedly different than when Cory first started working at the airport in 2008. With a lot of hard work and a collaborative nature, he’s turned it in to more than a basic sign shop and his team has proven their skill and professionalism.

“With all of the departments aware of what we can do, they don’t have to outsource, which is exactly how we like it,” Cory said. “We’re saving money, providing a faster turn-around and giving quality results.”

World Map Remembered

Since 1961, thousands of passengers have walked around the world by simply passing through Terminal 1 at the Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC). This is the location of the iconic World Map where travelers have traced their travels from SLC to areas around the globe for almost 60 years.

Salt Lake City records show Julius Bartoli—a skilled stoneworker with J. Bartoli Co. of Dallas, Texas—designed the World Map. The airport architects—Ashton, Evans & Brazier—submitted a drawing of the World Map concept, but J. Bartoli Co. was the subcontractor who installed the terrazzo to create what was initially called the “Map Medallion,” in the Terminal at Municipal Airport Number One—now known at SLC International Airport.  J. Bartoli Co. worked on many government projects in the 1930s through the 1970s, including the star map diagram at the Hoover Dam.

Little else is known about how the design came about, however, much more information is available about the map’s installation process. In a subcontractor document dated 1958, materials listed for the map installation are outlined and include white cement, sand, mesh, dividing strips and marble chips.

Preparation to install the World Map began with the following instructions: “Cover structural slab with dry sand ¼” bed, over which lay the building paper.” Followed later by “install ½” expansion joint material around columns and walls.”

The next step was to create a mortar underbed before installing zinc dividing strips and laying the terrazzo topping. Instructions read: “Proportion terrazzo mixture for topping in ration of 200 lbs. of marble granules to 100 lbs. white Portland cement with addition of non-fading, lime proof mineral pigment.”

Salt Lake resident Chano Rubalcava was one of the World Map installers and remembers it took about six months and four craftsmen to install the terrazzo that made up the image. The curing process alone required six days—during which the floor was to remain constantly moist—while the finishing process required a 72-hour wait period after the floor had been grouted. Bronze letter inserts were set into the dry pack to create the map routes and borders. Click here to see an interview with Mr. Rubalcava.

The meticulous work by skilled craftsman that went into creating the World Map has left a lasting impression on many visitors to SLC. The map has been photographed and color enhanced and will be hung in the Meeter-Greeter area of The New SLC for all to enjoy.

Airport Ambassadors Answer Questions with a Smile

Travelers through Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) may have noticed volunteers sporting neon green or blue polo shirts walking the concourses welcoming passengers with a smile. These are SLC’s new Airport Ambassadors who are ready to lend a helping hand to passengers and answer questions to help ease their way through the concourses.

For first-time or infrequent flyers, out-of-towners and everyone in between, SLC’s Ambassadors are cheerful, friendly and ready to help. While passengers are enjoying the added help, the volunteers are rewarded for their efforts along the way.

Airport Ambassadors get together for a lunch in their honor at the Salt Lake City International Airport, April 11, 2019.

“I like meeting the people that come to our airport,” said Clark Robinson, retired SLC accountant turned Airport Ambassador. “Whether they are from Utah, just passing through or if this is their final destination, I like letting them know we care about them.”

Airport Ambassadors assist with a variety of questions, whether it’s directing travelers to the appropriate gate, the nearest restroom or a tasty place to grab a bite. They also help passengers navigate the concourses, answer questions about ground transportation services and connecting flights, and help calm anxious flyers.

Russ Pack, retired airport executive who enjoys volunteering, says travelers are grateful to have a live person to talk to when they need assistance.

“Passengers have kind comments about being able to have an in-person conversation with someone who can help them and who knows their way around,” said Russ. “Every week I go home from my shift feeling greatly affirmed, not only because of all the great things people say about our airport, but because it feels like Airport Ambassadors are positively impacting the folks who travel through SLC.”

In addition to assisting travelers in the current facilities, Ambassadors will be vital to helping passengers find their way in The New SLC Airport when it opens in September of 2020. Anyone interested in becoming an Airport Ambassador can learn more about the program and apply via the airport’s website.

SLC’s Green Guru

Indoor plants do more than give us something beautiful to look at.  They clean the air, regulate humidity, increase positivity levelsand create calmness and relaxation. Plants are in museums, public parks, commercial buildings, office spaces and, yes, even airports.  The Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) is no exception. What’s remarkable about SLC, however, isn’t necessarily the plants (though they are spectacular), but Leslee Peterson, the sole person who is tasked with meticulously caring for all 500 of them.

Leslee Peterson, SLC’s resident horticulturalist, waters plants at the top of the F concourse on Monday, March 11.

Leslee is SLC’s in-house Green Guru, Plant Whisperer and Resident Horticulture Expert.

Leslee spent a few years in Seattle earning a horticulture degree and honing her green- thumb skills, while working as a gardener for private residences. When she was ready for a change and to be closer to family, Leslee moved back to Salt Lake City and serendipitously found a job as SLC’s horticulturalist. She initially noticed a big difference between peacefully working outside in a garden by herself and tending to plants in the busy concourses and terminals, but has adjusted nicely to her new indoor garden environment.

“I love the energy here,” said Leslee. “It’s fun getting to know people—passengers and employees—and generally learning about the airport and what each department does.”

Leslee was introduced to the gardening world as a young child when her mom would awaken her at 6:00 a.m. on weekends to pull weeds.At the time Leslee  thought her mom was punishing her, but now sees it as a great gift. Leslee credits her father for her love of plants, too. Every Sunday, he’d take her on walks and point out characteristics of leaves and trees and various plants and why they are important.

“I blame my parents,” said Leslee. “But I think there’s something to the energy between plants and humans. I’m grateful they taught me that so early.”

Although caring for plants seems like a laid-back job, don’t be fooled. Leslee spends 30 hours a week just watering them, and sometimes longer if the plants require fertilization. She inspects each one and meticulously dusts individual leaves.

Leslee gets plenty of questions from airport employees, whose desk plants she visits each week, as well as passengers. Questionsrange from how often to water, to what kind of fertilizer to use or hearing personal gardening stories.  She engages happily and is always ready to share her best tips and tricks for keeping plants healthy and growing.

“It’s this constant interaction with other gardeners and it’s so neat,” said Leslee. “Most of the time they just want to know what I’m putting on the plants and how to care for them. If they have any problems with their own plants, they’ll ask for my advice. I love it, and I love helping people.”

The Art of Art Collections in Modern Airports

Park City Barn by Darrell Thomas

If you stop to think about it, art and travel go hand-in-hand. Both provide glimpses of other places, other perspectives, and other cultures.

In this fast paced, post-9/11 world, security screening and air travel can be stressful. For this reason, among others, more and more airports are turning to art to make the traveling experience more enjoyable.

As common as art collections in airports are becoming, the Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) started building its collection in 1977, through the direction and oversight of former Airport Authority Board member and chair of the Airport Arts Subcommittee, Joseph Rosenblatt.

SLC’s collection boasts several local artists, different mediums and a vast array of landscape art that depicts Utah’s iconic beauty. While meandering through the terminals and concourses, you can take it all in – whether it’s the scenic photographs on canvas along the passenger walkways, the Ballet West exhibit at the top of Concourse F, complete with vintage pointe shoes, or the world map on the floor by security screening in Terminal 1.

Coming in 2020, The New SLC’s art collection will incorporate current art pieces and expand to include massive installations by Napa Valley-based artist Gordon Huether, whose work will reflect Utah’s natural landscape and beauty. The Canyon will span the length of a football field and is comprised of fabric and aluminum tubing. The Falls is a 65-foot tall sculpture that will create intriguing color effects by pairing light-sensitive dichroic glass fins with light-refracting glass rods, casting color and shapes on surrounding objects. Another addition to SLC’s collection will be the Whimsy Walls in the airport restrooms, which are large-scale vinyl wraps created from original artwork.

Delicate Arch – Anton Rasmussen

It’s been proven that art can have a calming effect on one’s basic emotions, so it makes sense that airports are taking an interest and investing in their in-house art collections. Calmer passengers can only make for a smoother traveling experience for everyone.

Airport art also offers passengers their first impression of a city, showcasing an area’s culture and vibrancy—whether they are passing through to catch a connecting flight or staying for business or leisure.

So take a moment, and a deep breath, on your next visit to SLC, and experience the art and the story it tells of Utah’s culture. Enjoy a self-guided tour and discover more about the artists and their significance to Utah’s arts community by scanning the QR codes on signs placed next to various works. What’s your favorite art in SLC’s collection, and why? Take a moment to tell us about your favorite piece.




Managing Wildlife at the Salt Lake City International Airport

When you think about airport operations, probably the last thing to cross your mind is animals on the airfield. But that’s a big part of the Salt Lake City Department of Airport’s wildlife mitigation team, which spends their days tracking and modifying spaces on and around the airport to keep the airfield safe.

Swedish goshawk trap on land surrounding the Salt Lake City International Airport.

Aside from the occasional deer or antelope, mice, hamsters and other rodents are common trespassers that the wildlife team mitigate frequently. Because rodents attract predatory birds like raptors (hawks and falcons), one strategy the team employs is keeping the grass longer on the airfield to camouflage the rodents, since raptors aren’t likely to hunt something they can’t see.

“Our main concern is birds,” said Candace Deavila, airport wildlife manager for the Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC). “This time of year, one of our most dangerous species are waterfowl. Salt Lake is unique because we sit on two major migratory flyways. We have a bigger challenge than some other airports because of the geography of the area.”

Last year, SLC reported 280 bird strikes, some of which damaged aircraft. Since airplanes are made from aluminum, it is critical they maintain their structural integrity. A small dent or a hole in the skin of the fuselage is unwelcome.

A Northern Harrier ready for processing at the Salt Lake City International Airport’s wildlife workshop.

“When our staff do runway inspections, if they find a bird on the runway or safety area it’s considered a strike,” explained Candace. “If an aircraft comes in with feathers and other
indicators that a bird was hit, we’ll send out a specialist to investigate. Every aircraft gets a
walk-around, by both the ground crew and the captain.”

The wildlife team monitors space within a two-mile radius of the airport, including nearby land owned by private parties. Using a geographic imaging system map, the team logs all the birds hazed using ornithological codes.

“We can go back at the end of the year and make hotspot maps based on where we’re seeing large concentrations of birds that we haze,” Candace said. “We use that information to determine what we can do to modify the habitat, so they don’t stick around. It tells us where we need to focus more of our efforts based on that data.”

The airport operates a wildlife workshop that houses bird traps, tools and other accoutrement necessary for the job. There are “holding boxes,” where birds are housed until they can be properly tagged and tracked.

“We transport these birds back to the shop and process them here,” Candace explained. “With all our traps, the intent is to capture the bird and relocate them. Generally, we hold on to birds for about 24 hours and then take them to specific locations away from the airport and release them.”

Processing a bird includes measuring and weighing the species, as well determining its age and gender. Once that is determined, a band is placed around their feet, and it becomes part of the US Geological Survey. The band acts as a tracker for the birds, so if they get caught again, it would be relatively easy to track its history to see where it came from.

Wildlife mitigation is an important part of airport operations and SLC does its best to ensure the safety of all who visit the airport, human or not.



After more than 30 years at Salt Lake City International Airport, Larry Bowers is set to retire

Larry Bowers has occupied just about every role there is during his 30-plus year career at the Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC).

Larry Bowers

Airport police? Check. Firearms trainer? Check. Terminal Services? Double check. Parking Liaison? Been there. Ground Transportation Supervisor? He could do it in his sleep. Airport Service Agent for Continental Airlines? Done that. Landside Operations Manager? Doing it.

Now, there’s a new role for Larry: retirement. Larry has worked since he was 14 years old, so retirement is a foreign concept. But, as with most things in his life, Larry’s ready to face this unknown terrain with vim and vigor. (We’ll get to his retirement plans later.)

Everyone said the 2002 Winter Olympics were going to be the biggest challenge to date for SLC, particularly the coordination of ground transportation, but Larry says that went off without a hitch. The biggest challenge he faced during his time at the airport was keeping the shuttles running when the airport was rebuilding landside infrastructure in the late 2000’s. But even then, Larry was optimistically up for the challenge.

“I got lucky, because I’ve done everything out there,” Larry said. “That shaped my knowledge of the whole operation. It helped me understand that when something happens, it creates a ripple effect, so understanding the bigger picture of how everything is connected helped get me through.”

It’s that can-do, “not gonna fail” attitude of Larry’s that has uniquely positioned him to not only take on numerous roles, but to succeed in them as well.

His retirement to-do list includes moving to Huntsville to be closer to his two daughters, maybe take a yoga class or two, buy a houseboat, join the Yacht Club at Pineview Reservoir, and most of all – travel.

We’ll miss seeing Larry at the airport—his jokes and his contagious laugh—but as with his airport career, Larry’s retirement days will no doubt be full, and full of purpose.

The world is your oyster, Larry!

SLC Decks Its Halls for the Holidays

Christmas trees ready to be placed throughout the airport.

It’s not uncommon for airports to get in the festive spirit. Holiday displays attract travelers for layovers and give passengers a glimpse into the traditions and culture of the community they are passing through. Perhaps more importantly, holiday decor can help cheer travelers during the busy holiday travel season.

For the holidays, Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) definitely decks its halls. The SLC Airport has a greenhouse on-site, where thousands of poinsettias are meticulously cultivated and grown each year to adorn the terminals during  December. Lighted Christmas trees and wreaths hung with ornaments are placed throughout the terminals and concourses. On Christmas Eve, Santa hands out candy canes, and musicians serenade travelers on the way to and from their gates.

But what will The New SLC look like for the holidays come December of 2020? For starters, larger than life

Nutcrackers for The New SLC.

nutcrackers (ranging from 6- to 12-feet tall) will be placed near the elevated roadway leading to the airport. Inside, a 35-foot tree will be placed in the terminal plaza where 6 ½ foot stars will hang from the ceiling. Giant wreaths, lots of garland and snowflakes along the pedestrian walkways will transform SLC into a winter wonderland.

If you find yourself at SLC this holiday season, take some time to wander the terminals and enjoy the festivities. The last holiday season at the existing airport will be in 2019. And if you’re in The New SLC come holiday season in 2020, you may not want to leave.


Poinsettia tree at the top of Concourse F.









SLC Airport’s Shoe Shiner Extraordinaire

If you’ve visited the Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) over the past 28 years, chances are you’ve seen JC Wilson, shoe-shiner extraordinaire at Goodfellow’s Shoeshine. Positioned at the top of the escalators in Terminal 1 after security screening, he sits in a leather-backed chair in front of his elevated wooden workstation, waiting for customers and watching passengers make their way through the airport.

At 6:00 a.m., he’s open for business. It’s hard to give an accurate description of how many customers he sees a day, JC says, because traffic and demand ebbs and flows. Depending on the flow of customers, though, he’ll stick around as long as there are shoes to shine.

JC Wilson, Goodfellow’s Shoeshine

“It’s different every day,” says JC. “Sometimes it’s a madhouse, sometimes it’s quiet. You never can tell, you’ve just got to play it by ear. As long as people are here needing my services, though, I’ll stay all day!”

There’s never a dull moment at the airport for JC. He encounters people from all over the world, and from all walks of life, and that’s the way he likes it. JC remembers a time when, unbeknownst to him, he was shining the shoes of a famous person. Were it not for an enthusiastic traveler passing by, Wilson might have never known he was shining Colin Powell’s shoes.

“I do a lot of work with my head down,” JC explains. “So I’m just shining his shoes, not paying attention to the customer’s face. That’s when a passerby in military fatigues engages him and says ‘I just saw your picture in Jet Magazine and you were in uniform, but I can’t remember which branch.’ And my customer replies ‘sir, at one time, all of them!’ And that’s when I looked up and saw that I was shining Colin Powell’s shoes.”

A lot has happened in the 28 years that JC has worked for Goodfellow’s Shoeshine at SLC. Get him talking about how much things have changed over the years, and how things are continuing to change with the construction of The New SLC, and he’ll tell you about a quieter time when the airport was just a single building.

“There used to be a little dusty parking lot across the street where the post office is,” he says. “You could turn in there and park and head to the observation area where you could watch planes take off and land.”

Regardless of the seemingly constant changes happening all around him, JC loves his perch at Terminal 1. The people he meets, the interactions he observes, the conversations he has with his customers as he shines their shoes, are all constant pieces of the job he’s loved for 28 years.

On your next trip through SLC, be sure to swing by Terminal 1 and see JC. Stop for the shoe shine, stay for his wit, charisma and stories. It will be a charmed interaction you won’t soon forget.