MUSCLE SHOALS — Ricky Ogletree has been to several Southeastern Conference football championship games in Atlanta, Georgia, but Friday was the first time he’s flown to one.
Oggletree is among numerous Shoals residents taking advantage of direct flights from the Northwest Alabama Regional Airport to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Boutique Air.
Airport Director Barry Griffith said Friday flights to Atlanta were full, and the early morning flight today was also booked up.
The SEC Championship game pits the University of Alabama Crimson Tide against the University of Georgia Bulldogs, which is a rematch of the 2018 National Championship.
Sunday flights returning to the Shoals are also full.
Ogletree said he plans on attending the game with his son and daughter, who both attended the University of Alabama.
“Sometimes I get tired of driving in that traffic over there,” Ogletree said. “It’s a pretty good little drive when you lose an hour in the Eastern time zone.”
The flight, he said, only takes about an hour.
“This will be my first time to fly from the Shoals,” Ogletree said.
He said his father took him to Alabama games in the 1960s when the team was coached by the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant.
“We used to go to quite a few games in the ’60s,” Ogletree said. “We had season tickets in 1981 when Bryant broke the record for most wins by a college (football) coach.”
Ogletree said he is returning to the Shoals on a Sunday flight that will get him home about 6 p.m.
Griffith said some fans flew out Thursday. According to the flight schedule on the airport’s website, there are only two daily flights to Atlanta.
Griffith said he was pleased to see full loads on the flights.
“Even in inclement weather, flights remained on schedule (Friday) at the Northwest Alabama Regional Airport,” Griffith said.