Cox Family High on Bryce Canyon
By Dixie Brunner
You might say aviation runs in the Cox family. Three generations of men from the southern Utah family have been airplane and helicopter pilots. And for the past 40 plus years, they have been primarily based at the Bryce Canyon Airport! “We’ve been there for decades,” said Paul Cox with pride, of his high-flying family’s close relationship with the Garfield County-owned airport.
Paul’s father Glenn got the whole ”flying Cox” thing started, as his love for aeronautics resulted in him becoming an CAA/FAA inspector. “I kind of grew up with airplanes,” admitted Paul, with a grin.
“We began Bryce Canyon Airlines in 1977.” In that capacity, Cox pilots both helicopter and fixed wing airplanes for Bryce Air. The company has offered numerous affordable scenic and charter options through the years. They also fly to Monument Valley and over the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. They specialize in flying handicapped, elderly and children on their tours.
Cox, married to wife Becky for over 30 years, added that he has loved piloting from Bryce Canyon Airport. “We’ve met so many interesting people, and have even flown dignitaries wanting to see the aerial grandeur of the national parks. There have been so many unique experiences.”
Paul Cox is also a Certified Flight Instructor. While convenient for those seeking flight instruction in the area, it was great for his son Alex, who took lessons from his father when he was only a 15 year-old junior at Pine View High School in St. George.
Alex took his solo flight in a Bell 206B Jet Ranger III in 2004, becoming only the fifth 16 year-old in the nation to solo in a helicopter and the first to do it in a jet! The test required he take three full traffic patterns, landing between each.
Third generation Alex Cox earned his commercial pilot’s license when he was 18, and began flying for the company in 2008.
The Bryce Canyon Airport is owned and operated by Garfield County, and managed by Greg Pollock and Ty Ramsay. It is located approximately four miles north of Bryce Canyon.
The airport hangar itself is significant, as an unusual example of a log hangar. The airport and hangar were built of nearby ponderosa pine by Garfield County and the Works Progress Administration in 1936. The hangar’s gabled roof is sawn wood trusses spanning 83 feet, that are expressed on the outside and infilled with half-rounds of log, giving it a half-timbered effect. An interesting note is that the timber used show the marks of the borers that infested the trees, which were harvested as part of a program to remove beetle-killed trees.
The purpose of the airport was to attract tourism to remote Bryce Canyon National Park, which had been designated in 1928. The Bryce Canyon Airport was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
For more information on Bryce Canyon Airlines, call the flight desk at Ruby’s Inn at 435-834-8060 or Paul at 435-691-8813 or go to: www.rubysinn.com/bryce-canyon-airlines.com.html