United Express service launches at SHD

Published: Apr. 4, 2018 at 1:43 AM EDT
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After months of anticipation, the inaugural United Express flight at Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport took off on Tuesday evening en route to Washington, D.C.

A ceremony drew dozens of people to the Weyers Cave airport's passenger terminal.

"This is far, in a way, the best service we've ever had and it's the best service we ever will get," said Gerald Garber, the chairperson of the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport Commission. "We have to make sure that we have something here for them to want to maintain. We will never get another opportunity like this."

When the new air carrier

in December 2017, an SHD spokesperson said the service would be something like the airport had never seen before.

"For the valley, this is our once in a lifetime opportunity," said Garber.

The inaugural jet, operated by SkyWest Airlines, left Weyers Cave a little after 8:30 p.m. and landed in Washington, D.C. about 25 minutes later.

Melinda and Daniel Ott, from California, were among the first passengers to take the flight from SHD to Dulles International.

"We do fly quite a bit, but we've never been here," said Melinda Ott. "We've never been to Virginia at all."

The flight was convenient for the Otts after the two visited James Madison University for a college visit.

They scheduled the flight, knowing its significance to the community.

"My dad loves planes. We knew this was the first flight so I've been texting him pictures and sending them to him as the day has progressed," said Melinda Ott. "We specifically got to the airport early so he could kind of see what was going on."

Flights to Washington and Chicago's O'Hare International Airport will be offered daily.

Tickets information can be found at