From left, Mountain Village Mayor Leila Benitez, Telluride Regional Airport Authority Chair Jon Dwight, Telluride Mayor, Sean Murphy, and Denver Air Connection pilot and co-owner Glen Rich cut the ribbon as Telluride Regional Airport began commercial jet service for the first time ever Wednesday. (Photo by Melissa Plantz/Telluride Daily Planet)

On Wednesday morning, I embarked on the inaugural commercial jet flight into the Telluride Regional Airport (TEX) as part of Denver Air Connection's new daily service. Flying into the highest airport in North America is always exciting, and flying on the 30-seat Dornier 328 JET was comfortable, reliable and fast.

Telluride is remote, and that's the beauty of living in this amazing valley, but being able to get to and from Telluride by jet will be first-rate for locals and visitors alike. TEX finished significant improvements to the airport in 2018 that ultimately led to the expansion of the runway and the ability to offer jet service. Colorado Flights Alliance (CFA) then found and put together the partnership with Denver Air Connection to offer jet service.

Our flight was piloted by Denver Air Connection owner Glen Rich, a Denver-based pilot with years of experience flying in the mountains.

Rich and his co-pilot and first officer, Alex Brown, greeted us and announced that we were taking the first jet flight into Telluride, to cheers and clapping from the passengers on board. Cabin service included a selection of snacks and beverages that wasn't limited to just peanuts and water, something Wade Goetz, director of business development, is proud of.

In 40 minutes, we were on the ground in Telluride and I was only 10 minutes from home. We were greeted with champagne from board members and staff to celebrate the new service. CFA also ran a “pack your bags” promotion as they announced that the first ten people that showed up at the airport would fly to Denver and back on a flight within a week. Sixteen people showed up, and to their surprise, they were all offered a seat on the plane.

"It was quick and easy. We can't wait to fly again. It's such a great way to get from Telluride to Denver and back,” said resident Courtney McClary, one of the lucky winners of the drawing.

You could feel the exuberance at the airport as CFA CEO Matt Skinner and board members from the organization mingled with executives from Denver Air Connection, the board and team from TEX, the mayors from both the towns of Telluride and Mountain Village, and community members.

"Matt and his team should be proud of the work they've accomplished. This has been years and years in the making, and thousands of hours spent," Rich said.

Jon Dwight, Telluride Regional Airport Authority chair, cut the ribbon on the runway in front of the Dornier 328 JET, alongside Rich, Mountain Village Mayor Laila Benitez and Telluride Mayor Sean Murphy.

"May 15 is officially Colorado Flights Day," Goetz said.

Flights in August on denverairconnection.com start at $179 one way for mid-week travel. Denver Air Connection has an interline relationship with United Airlines, which enables travelers to book and connect through United’s global network.

Travelers can book now through united.com or denverairconnection.com. Visit coloradoflights.org for more information.