Fascinated by Flight | General Aviation at SLCDA

In 1986, Rick Brewer started flying with a friend who was interested in commercial aviation. While his friend never flew commercially, Rick enjoyed the experience so much that he decided to earn his private pilot’s license. 

“I’ve been flying for about 38 years,” Rick said. “I would watch the airplanes fly over and I was just fascinated by how that could even happen,” he continued.  “My wife would never fly with me but then I bought a King Air and she decided she would try it. That first flight with her was something special.” 

What started as a fun activity became a lifelong hobby and passion for Rick. Today, Rick still owns a King Air and leases space at South Valley Regional Airport.  

Rick Brewer’s King Air

The state of Utah has more than 1,200 registered general aviation aircraft and more than 11,500 licensed pilots. To honor the legacy of general aviation, Utah Governor Spencer Cox declared May as General Aviation Month in Utah.  

SLC, U42 & TVY | Three General Aviation Locales  

The Salt Lake Department of Airports (SLCDA) manages operations at three airports-South Valley Regional Airport, Tooele Valley Airport and Salt Lake City International Airport. General aviation maintains an important presence at all three airports through flight schools, based aircraft and FBOs (fixed based operators).  

“General aviation is a very critical part of SLCDA and in the state of Utah,” said Sam Allen, FBO manager at South Valley Regional Airport.  “The three airports we operate are very busy, especially South Valley- we have a lot of based aircraft and flight training.”  

Last year, South Valley Regional Airport (SVRA) was the fourth busiest airport in the state, supporting over 105,000 operations in 2023. SVRA currently hosts five flight schools-four fixed-wing schools and one helicopter school. The airport has around 185-based aircraft and also shares space with the Utah National Guard Army Aviation Support Facility. 

At Tooele Valley Airport (TVY), one can expect to see skydivers launching, students practicing flight maneuvers and the Bureau of Land Management conducting seasonal fire fighting operations. TVY leases space to six privately-owned hangars and two aircraft parking aprons. 

At SLC International, general aviation is located on the east side of the airport property. SLC is home to two FBOs-Atlantic Aviation and Signature Aviation-as well as Cornerstone Aviation flight school, numerous private and corporate aircraft and the Utah Air National Guard. 

Flight Schools & Personal Passions 

Flight school operations at SLCDA’s airports are a key component of general aviation. With the ongoing need for pilots, commercial and corporate air service relies on the pilot training pipeline that these flight schools provide.  

And of course, general aviation is the gateway for passionate Utahns who enjoy flying private aircraft. Alex Aaronson, a recent high school graduate and aviation student with Upper Limit Aviation, is currently working to earn her private pilot’s license. 

“It feels unreal to me when I’m up in the air and actually in control,” Alex said. “The most important thing to me [about general aviation] is knowing I can do it. Even my first lesson in the plane I was unsure. But flying has really improved my confidence,” she shared. 

SLCDA is committed to supporting general aviation now and in the future-for students like Alex, enthusiasts like Rick, and for all who are fascinated by flight. As Leonardo da Vinci famously said, “Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, and there you will always long to return.” 

South Valley Regional Airport