David Story began with the simple idea of owning a small airline to take tourists to the Grand Canyon in a more convenient way than driving. Now, Story, a pilot since 2005, has plans to expand that service to nearly half a dozen other national parks in Utah and surrounding states. The concept for Utah Airways came to him after his family moved back to Utah from Nevada after his son became seriously ill, he said.
“I lived in [Las] Vegas for about 12 years. I had a small little airline in Vegas. My kid got really sick when we came up here to Utah to visit family,” Story said. “So, we went down to Vegas. We sold everything. My son was being taken care of at Primary Children’s Hospital up here in Salt Lake City.”
After selling off his first small airline company, he and his family settled down in his native Utah. Reconnecting with Bret Kobe, a friend and fellow pilot, provided him with a like-minded business partner. Their new airline is filling a gap in the Utah tourist industry, Story said.
“I have a friend of mine that I had encountered with in Vegas. He was from Utah as well. So, he moved back and we just kind of got together,” he said. “I said, ‘Hey, I’m in Utah now. Why don’t we set up the whole airline I had down in Vegas?’ There’s a need for it here. We can actually fly people there and be back in one day.”
According to Story, the reactions from potential customers and financiers has been overwhelmingly in favor of the new idea. People are excited to now have the possibility to fly to a national park and be back in one day, he said.
“The response has been completely positive,” Story said. “Every time we’ve shared this idea with people, they love the idea of being able to go to the Grand Canyon in the morning and be back in Salt Lake for lunchtime.”
Utah Airways is set to begin flights in January 2015.