Actor planning airport in the Sun Valley area
July 1, 2009
HAILEY, Idaho – The actor Bruce Willis, who owns a small ski area about 50 miles from Ketchum and Sun Valley, has begun work that could yield an airport capable of handling jet aircraft. The Idaho Mountain Express reports that paperwork filed with federal authorities estimates 150 monthly jet takeoffs or landings, and another 150 by turboprops and 200 by propeller aircraft.
Meanwhile, squabbling continues about whether the Ketchum and Sun Valley resort area needs a new airport. The existing airport is located at Hailey, about 20 miles downvalley from the resort community. Larger jets cannot use the airport safely, however, and expansion seems impossible owing to nearby residential development.
Instead, local officials have been looking to build another airport – one in the general vicinity of Willis’s proposed airport. Freed of geographical constraints and other development, such an airport could perhaps allow Sun Valley and Ketchum the sort of air portal enjoyed by Vail, Steamboat and other destination resorts.
But the operator of the Sun Valley ski area and others argue that an airport 45 minutes to an hour from the ski area will be too far, and customers will choose to drive another hour or two to reach destinations at Twin Falls or Boise. Also those protesting the more distant location include Horizon and SkyWest airlines, which current fly smaller planes into the airport at Hailey.
Ironically, because of its rail connection, Ketchum became the first dedicated ski town in North America in 1936, when Averell Harriman opened the Sun Valley ski area. Use of the railroad has long been discontinued, however.