Fly Back in Time

1922, Grand Canyon Landing

R.V. Thomas (left) with his plane on the Tonto Platform or Plateau in the Grand Canyon. Thomas, a daredevil stunt pilot, was the first aviator to land a plane in the Grand Canyon on August 8, 1922. 


Black and White Photograph of a Bi-plane with two people

Sky Harbor's Beginnings

1928, First Commercial Flight

After setting up an airport near the Grand Canyon to fly tourists to see the sights, Scenic Airways then built an airport in Phoenix for pilot training and commercial flights. On November 18, the first flight departing Sky Harbor was a Ford Tri-Motor carrying 12 members of the Rocky Point Fishing Club to Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. 

Image courtesy of Grand Canyon Airlines

Black and White Image of Ford Tri-Motor Plane with People

1920s, Scenic Airways Pilot

Early Pilot 1920s with boots and jaupers

E.V. Graham was a Scenic Airways pilot during the late 1920s - 1930s.  Early commercial pilots’ duties often included selling tickets, loading the baggage and mail into the plane, helping passengers board, cleaning the cabin, plane maintenance, and fueling.

Image from Phoenix Airport Museum, Aviation History Collection

1929, Sky Harbor Dedication

1929 Dedication at Sky Harbor with announcements and Tri-Motor plane

Image from Phoenix Airport Museum, Aviation History Collection

1929, Scenic Airways Flight School

Scenic Airways Bi-plane with two women

As interest in aviation grew and more aircraft were available, entrepreneurs saw an opportunity for the development of flight schools.  The number of licensed pilots in the United States grew from 25 at the end of 1910 to more than 200 by 1912.  Eager to expand their own operations, Scenic Airways began operating a winter flight school out of Sky Harbor Airport. They offered “free instruction every day the sun doesn’t shine.”

Image from Phoenix Airport Museum, Aviation History Collection