April 1, 2005
By Alton K. Marsh
What kind of financial aid can water-logged Santa Paula Airport expect from the state? "Nothing," says Division of Aeronautics Chief R. Austin Wiswell. Santa Paula is privately owned, and therefore state and federal funds are not available to it. Pilots at the airport dug into their own pockets in late February to pay an earth-moving contractor to slow the damage. Wiswell did not have information on total repair estimates, but said even the lowest estimate he has heard, "makes my eyes water."
It was the second time this year the airport has been hit by storm erosion. In January, 40 feet was lost off the edge of the airport.
Wiswell said Corona Municipal Airport also had flooding, but nothing like the soil-moving torrent seen at Santa Paula.
An article February 26 in the Ventura County Star said the airport and a Santa Paula Creek project have received $6 million from the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service and will split the money. The money will be used for two projects. One will create a five-foot-wide channel through a sandbar in the middle of the river, directing the river away from its fragile banks. The other will involve fill material, rock embankments, and rock structures extending into the river to slow it. The $6 million is a grant and does not require matching funds from the city and county.
The funds were obtained by Rep. Elton Gallegy (R-Calif.). It may not cover repaving, landscaping, and fill dirt, since it is aimed primarily at restoring the river bank. The airport pilots now owe more than $200,000 for emergency contractor work. For updates visit the Web site ( www.santapaulaairport.org).
The Livermore City Council has issued a first step in what some fear could be years of trouble ahead for Livermore Municipal Airport.
Specifically, the council voted to scrap parts of the airport master plan and draw up a new one, but generally the council's goal is to restrict operations that residents consider noisy. An altered master plan will affect an environmental impact study demanded by those concerned about noise before a development plan can proceed.
It was the development plan that trigged public concern and led to a January 31 meeting so large that the council had to move it to a high-school gym to accommodate the 1,000 attendees. The plan calls for lengthening the shorter of two runways from 2,700 feet to 4,000 feet, adding hangars, and leasing space to businesses that support corporate aviation.
The "guiding principles" adopted by the city council for the revised master plan reveal the direction in which the plan is headed. They include development of a noise-monitoring system and a reduction in current noise levels. The Airport Advisory Commission will not be involved in preparing or making formal recommendations on the principles but will be invited to send a representative to the city council when the principles are considered.
Once the principles are determined related to the operation of the airport, a new master plan will be developed using consultants. Then the environmental impact report can be made. Residents still weren't happy with all the new planning, with some telling the Contra Costa Times in a February 1 story that they fear a rubber-stamped plan that fails to meet their concerns.
The council, in the meantime, plans to gain a greater understanding of what the city can legally do to curb noise at the airport. Members of the council told the Contra Costa Times that even if federal law prohibits a ban on jets or a nighttime curfew, there are still things they can do to curb certain activities.
Airport supporters are concerned that the opposition could be the first of many efforts spread over coming years by residents who simply want the airport closed.
The South County Airport Pilots Association at South County Airport of Santa Clara County, located near San Martin, remains active in good-neighbor relations by attending all county and neighborhood meetings. AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Donald Murphy was a founding member of the group.
AOPA's Regulatory and Certification division continues to work with the FAA to collect data in a pilot survey about the danger posed by broadcast towers near the airport. The survey stems from a recent accident involving an aircraft striking a broadcast tower near the Fullerton Municipal Airport. AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Hal Reish was contacted by both AOPA and local officials to help pass the word along to other airport users about the importance of the survey. Results will aid in making a decision as to whether or not to reconstruct the tower, and if so, how best to provide appropriate lighting.
A recent vote on easements by the Yucca Valley town council is considered a victory for airport enthusiasts. The council unanimously passed an ordinance that requires aviation-related easements to be included in all deeds on and near the airport.
AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer George Thornally notes that while this is a victory, the public-relations side of it must be handled cautiously. The stage may be set for lawsuits by property owners who may allege that this is a "public taking" without consideration by government authorities; opponents may further claim that it could cause long-lasting expenses for the airport and town. To help inform the public about the issue, Thornally is working with the town council on careful wording that would clarify that the easements do not take away all rights forever. He is meeting with the town attorney on the matter.
The Second Annual Spring Fly-In is scheduled for May 7 at Redlands Municipal Airport. Antique and other aircraft will be on display along with an exhibit from the Civil Air Patrol. The official opening of a new runway reconstruction project will take place, which includes an extension to 5,006 feet, runway edge lighting, and taxiway resurfacing.
Watsonville Regional Airport Promotion, a political action committee, is ready to fight challenges to Watsonville Municipal Airport. The airport is at the center of a debate over a proposed housing development in the Buena Vista area.
City officials have discussed plans to annex that area and build as many as 2,400 homes and apartments, but the safety zones for the airport's runway interfere with their plan. This has prompted proposals to shorten (by 500 feet) or eliminate the 3,999-foot crosswind Runway 8/26.
The newly formed Santa Barbara Airport Advocates group conducted its first formal meeting recently to a large crowd. The group was formed to keep general aviation vibrant at Santa Barbara Municipal Airport. A new Web site will be established soon to support the cause.
After 10 years of trying, AOPA Airport Support Network (ASN) volunteer Jim Gates was appointed by the Torrance City Council to the airport commission serving Zamperini Field (at Torrance). Gates became an AOPA ASN volunteer at the program's inception in 1998.
A super unicom will be installed at Twentynine Palms Airport in May that will provide surface-wind conditions and altimeter readings 24 hours a day for arriving aircraft.
The lack of a monitored unicom has been a concern to pilots, since the lack of altimeter readings prevents the use of the published nonprecision approach.
6 — Camarillo. Camarillo Airport (CMA). Ventura County Ninety-Nines "Fine Tuning Nonprecision Approaches" course. Instructor: Ken Coolidge. Call Susan Liebeler, 310/457-2926.
13 — Camarillo. Camarillo Airport (CMA). Ventura County Ninety-Nines IFR Training course. Instructor: Dennis Renzelman. Call Susan Liebeler, 310/457-2926.
17 — San Diego. Brown Field (SDM). Gay pilot fly-in. Lunch and sky diving. Call 760/458-6787.
23 — El Cajon. Gillespie Field (SEE). San Diego ASC Super Safety Seminar 2005. Call Fred Christlieb, 619/925-4777.
24 — Furnace Creek. Furnace Creek-Death Valley Airport (L06). Beech Aero Club Sunday Brunch. Call Jeff Bryant, 661/203-8756.
27-May 4 — Camarillo. Camarillo Airport (CMA). Ventura County Ninety-Nines "GPS Clinic" two-week course. Instructor: Ken Coolidge. Call Susan Liebeler, 310/457-2926.
"Calendar" is updated weekly on the Web ( www.aopa.org/pilot/calendar/). Weekend flying destinations are posted each Friday in AOPA ePilot.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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