Great Places: The Airports of the Valley

On the cool misty morning of November 2, the Rogue Valley-Medford International Airport welcomed another airline to its ranks. A plane from Aha! (Air, Hotel, Adventure!) touched down in Medford and was greeted by airport officials, community leaders, and local media. The flight had marked the thirteenth nonstop destination for Medford’s history books: $49 tickets to Reno/Tahoe. Amidst the Aha! celebration in the airport, crowds of other passengers prepared for departure and walked through the arrival gates, proving that despite the pandemic, Southern Oregon’s commercial airport is still relevant—and growing exponentially. In the past year alone, the airport has connected the region to brand new destinations such as Burbank and Orange County. With each new direct flight, the Rogue Valley becomes all the more enticing as a possible vacation or business spot for thousands of people in the connecting cities. For the economic world of Southern Oregon, a busy airport means a healthy economy—especially for the region’s vast tourism and hospitality sector.

Aha! arrives in the Rogue Valley.

In addition to commercial flights, the Rogue Valley-Medford International Airport has conference rooms available for rent, including the replica “Oval Office.” The Sky House Bar and Grill is open from 4am daily, making sure you have something to eat before your early flights. And on Saturdays from 9am to 10am, a KC-97 Stratofreighter is also available for public viewings. If your kids or grandkids are thrilled by planes, you now know where to take them! Recently, the airport even welcomed a tourist information center next to the baggage claim, and of course, the gift shop is a nice spot for last minute concessions.

In Josephine County, the Grants Pass Airport is also staying busy. Though they don’t offer commercial flights, numerous private planes and flight schools spend time on Grants Pass’ tarmac. In June, the airport even welcomes the public with a free open house, a car show, an aircraft display, and a pancake breakfast for all the aviation aficionados. Plus, if you fit into that aviation-loving group and you’ve ever wanted to be a pilot, Pacific Aviation Northwest holds their trainings at the Grants Pass airport. Offering ground school, licenses, rental planes, and more, it’s never too late to take up flying.

The Southern Oregon Air Academy (SOAA) also connects the Grants Pass airport with teenage pilots. Summer camps give both middle school and high school students opportunities to understand the structure of planes, their maintenance needs, and of course, how to fly. In years past, the TeenFlight program even provided a two-year opportunity for the older students to build a plane from scratch and then auction it off. That’s a level of plane-exposure that even college students don’t always get!

In addition to these two airports, we can’t forget the Ashland Municipal Airport-Sumner Parker Field! The airport, developed by local pilot Sumner Parker, began unofficial use in the late 1940s—and was officially recognized as an airport in 1965. Today, the field has thirty-four hangars and supports over eighty based aircraft. Owned and operated by the City of Ashland, the location is also the home of Air Rescue Systems, Brim Aviation, Skinner Aviation, and other stellar Southern Oregon aviators.

So whether you want to travel as a pilot or a passenger, any of our Rogue Valley airports can make your flight goals happen. Visit an airport today—or all of them—and at the very least, enjoy a nice afternoon watching the planes come and go.

 

(Strategy 4.2.1. Leverage the region’s transportation assets and partners, such as the Rogue Valley International Medford Airport).

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