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First plane landed here in 1920

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Published on Feb. 8, 2020

An article in the Dec. 28, 1961, issue of the Saratoga Sun reads:

        We don’t pay much attention nowadays to the numerous planes buzzing around over town or about the nearby airport, but a plane came in here 41 years ago this month – Dec. 2, 1920 – which attracted a lot of attention. It was the first aeroplane to land in this region and it came down on an alfalfa field a couple miles west of town. 

The plane had been circling around over the area, and it was evident the pilot was in trouble and looking for a likely place to put the plane down.

        There was much excitement about town, everybody was out watching, and when the plane finally came to earth west of town, stores were closed, the schools were dismissed and the whole population rushed out to the alfalfa field, on what was then the Johnson ranch.

        It proved to be one of the early mail planes operating between Salt Lake City and Cheyenne, and was forced down by a shortage of fuel. The pilot was to have re-fueled at Rock Springs, but due to poor visibility in that area he missed the Rock Springs field. He was practically out of fuel and chose the most likely spot he could find to put the plane down. 

And it was a good choice, though he had a rough ride across the field of alfalfa stubble. He barely skimmed over a big irrigating ditch to touch ground, and managed to stop the plane within 15 feet of another ditch, either of which could have wrecked the plane.

        For a good many of our people it was their opportunity to see an aeroplane at close range, and they got an eye-full. For most of the kids it provided a thrill almost equal to the arrival of a man from the moon.

The plane suffered some damage to instruments in the shakeup, and could not proceed, so the mail was delivered to the local postmaster for forwarding to Cheyenne. Mechanics were sent up from Cheyenne to make repairs and get the plane back in service.

CAPTION: A mail plane similar to the first one to land near Saratoga in 1920 was forced down a couple of years later. It also drew a crowd and made headlines in the hometown weekly newspaper. Photo from the Yoakum/Pilot album in Bob Martin/Dick Perue collection. Historical Reproductions by Perue

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