Heads in the clouds

Alto Flight Academy takes off at Sundance Airport

Flight instructor Hal Harris, of Alto Flight Academy at Sundance Airport, with his Beechcraft airplane. (Photo by Robert Medley)

By Robert Medley
Senior Staff Writer

On the windswept flatland north of Yukon, Hal Harris has been taking off for decades.

He was just 16 when he made his own grassland runway on a family farm near 122nd and County Line Road.

It is not far from where Harris has a flight school today in eastern Canadian County.

Alto Flight Academy moved two years ago from Wiley Post to Sundance Airport, 13000 N. Sara Road.

Harris, 66, grew up on the northwest side of Oklahoma City. He learned to fly when he was just 16.

“I decided I wanted to build a grass landing strip on our farm,” Harris said.

There are still three red balls on the power lines near the residential development there called Ponderosa.

Bud Harris, his father, was a recreational pilot. His uncle Jim Harris, a retired Air Force pilot, taught him how to fly.

Hal Harris recalled learning to fly in 1974.

“I’ve been flying ever since,” he said.

Hal Harris started his first flight training organization in 1995. He worked as a certified flight instructor and a corporate pilot.

Certified flight instructor Ben Henderson stands next to a Cessna 172 used for training pilots at Alto Flight Academy, which moved two years ago to Sundance Airport in eastern Canadian County. (Photo by Robert Medley)
Alma Harris, Grace Manglicmot and Hal Harris stand near airplanes at Alto Flight Academy at Sundance Airport in eastern Canadian County. (Photo by Robert Medley)


On a recent sunny, warm September day at Sundance Airport, Hal Harris showed off a Cessna 172 used by certified flight instructor Ben Henderson.

“That is what most people have learned to fly in, the majority of pilots,” he said.

The other airplane he brought out to the runway was a Beechcraft Baron twin engine that seats six people and can go 200 mph.

Sundance is a privately owned airport open for public use. The original hangar is still at the south end of the airport.

It was originally Jack Richards’ airport with a 2,500-foot grass strip.

About 250 airplanes are based there today.

“It’s been good,” Hal Harris said about the flight school. “The pandemic hurt business a little bit, but things are picking back up. All of this year has been good.”

Alto offers private pilot training, instrument rating, engine training, commercial pilot training, and airline transport pilots. There are four airplanes in the flight school.

His wife Alma works in the office and his daughter, Grace Manglicmot, is the president of the company. His son Beau Harris is airframe and powerplant mechanic.

Find out more about Alto Flight Academy at altoflight.com, visit them on Facebook or call (405) 789-1234.

The Alto Flight Academy crew are: From left, Alma Harris, Grace Manglicmot, Ben Henderson, Bandit (dog), Beau Harris, and Hal Harris. (Photo by Robert Medley)
Control panels are pictured as seen inside this airplane used for training pilots at Alto Flight Academy. (Photo by Robert Medley)