Pilot mistakenly lands plane at old St. George airport

ST. GEORGE – Dixie Technical College received a surprise visit Thursday morning when a small plane touched down at the old St. George airport runway only to turn right back around and fly off.

Around 9:50 a.m., a plane, identified as a 1983 Beechcraft F33A Bonanza single-engine aircraft, caught the attention of students and faculty at the Dixie Tech as they looked out the window to see the plane touch down and head toward one of the school’s buildings.

A single-engine plane unexpectedly landed at the site of the old St. George Municipal Airport that is now occupied by Dixie Technical College, St. George, Utah, Sept. 13, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Ryan Merrill, St. George News

“Looking out the window I saw (the plane) coming down,” said Ryan Merrill, at assistant IT manager at the school who filmed the plane’s landing with his phone. “He came down and touched down in the gravel, because that runway has been torn up.”

On the video, the plane appeared to bounce on the runway after hitting the gravel as it approached the tech school’s industrial building, which made some observers briefly worry that the plane was going to collide with the building.

Instead, the plane slowed and turned onto what remained of the old airport’s taxiway and took to the sky once more.

Merrill and others at Dixie Tech caught the strange occurrence on video and said they couldn’t believe what they had seen.

After leaving the vicinity of Dixie Tech, the aircraft’s pilot took the plane to the St. George Regional Airport.

St. George Police officer Tiffany Atkin said the department looked into the incident. The pilot is from out of town and hadn’t flown into St. George since the new airport was built. The pilot also contacted authorities at the correct airport about the mistake.

A check of the plane’s registry shows it originating out of Anaheim, California.

No further action was taken by police due the incident being deemed a misunderstanding on the pilot’s part.

The original St. George Municipal Airport on the Black Hill was in use from the early 1930s to January 2011 when it was replaced by the new St. George Regional Airport.

In the wake of the old airport’s closure, the location was used for various activities like drag racing, SkyWest Airline’s Mini-indy event and the occasional concert.

More recently the site has become the new home of the Dixie Technical College and is slated to become a technology business park called Tech Ridge.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

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