The Yuma County Airport Authority is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a concert featuring the Yuma Symphony Orchestra on Monday inside the Yuma International Airport terminal.
Holiday music will fill the terminal at 2181 E. 32nd St. from 5 to 6:30 p.m., just as one of the busiest flying weeks of the year begins over Christmas.
The airport authority was formed Dec. 30, 1965, by a board of directors elected from members of the community. Under state law it is a nonprofit organization formed for airport management, as well as to oversee airport development and aviation-related functions. It's funded through rates and charges assessed to airport users, as well as grants from federal and other sources.
"Our mission, as the YCAA, is to operate Yuma International Airport on behalf of the citizens and families of Yuma County, and to provide a safe, efficient and customer focused airport to serve Greater Yuma," said airport Director Gladys Wiggins.
The YCAA manages the airport property under an agreement with Yuma County, which leases the land from the federal government, under a 50-year lease which is typically renewed every 25 years. It is adjacent to Marine Corps Air Station-Yuma, which is owned by the U.S. Navy, and shares runways with the base.
"The partnership is very unique and is instrumental in the operation of the airport," Wiggins said.
The original airport terminal was destroyed by fire in the late 1960s and was replaced by a modular building, which was used until the current F.C. “Frosty” Braden Passenger Terminal was built in 1999.
The airport has been overseen by a total of nine airport directors and 65 Airport Authority Board of Directors members. “It is an honor to serve our community and continue building on strong foundations and the footsteps of many great men and women," said Wiggins, who was named the airport's director in 2013 and has worked there since 2009.
The airport has daily flights to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on American Airlines. Airport administration has some survival tips for flying over the busy holiday period:
• Check in online the night before leaving, if possible.
• Arrive at the airport two hours before departure if you are checking luggage (no more than 50 pounds per bag) or 90 minutes prior if not. Most flights during the holiday weeks are full and it can take extra time to get through security.
• Arrange drop-off and pickup times before you travel, or parking is available at the airport lot for $8 a day.
• Pack luggage carefully, and remember weight and size requirements for checked and carry-on bags. "Packing your luggage can be like playing the game of Tetris, especially if you are packing gifts. Make sure to put extra protection around fragile items, or ship them ahead of time," Wiggins said.
• When in doubt, drop by the airport or call the toll-free reservation line to ask questions. More information is available through www.yumaairport.com or by calling (928) 941-2396. For parking questions, call Republic Parking at (928) 314-3965.