January 8, 2013
By Benét J. Wilson
California’s Oceanside City council has renamed Oceanside Municipal Airport to honor former Tuskegee Airman Bob Maxwell for his efforts to save the facility from closure in 2006. The facility will now be known as Bob Maxwell Field.
Maxwell spent a lifetime in aeronautics and was a strong advocate for general aviation. His interest in aviation began early, and he received a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering and completed civilian pilot training to earn his commercial pilot certificate at City College of New York. He was hired as an installation engineer by the Aeronautical Division of Curtis Wright Corporation in Woodbridge, N.J.
Maxwell joined the Army Air Corps during World War II and was trained as a bomber pilot as one of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen. After the war, he returned to Wright Aeronautical and worked on the design and development of turbojet and ramjet engines. He completed his Masters of Science in mechanical engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology and later received an MBA from UCLA.
Remaining active in aviation, Maxwell was president of the San Diego Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen and later served on its board of directors. The Tuskegee Airmen received the Congressional Gold Medal for their service during World War II.
Maxwell served on the board of directors of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, the San Diego Air and Space Museum, and on the University Council at California State University-San Marcos. He also served on the Transportation Committee of the City of Oceanside, the City of San Diego Airports Advisory Committee, and was president of the San Diego Regional Transportation Technology Alliance.
Maxwell spearheaded local pilots and worked with AOPA, the FAA, and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), to save Oceanside Airport from closure in 2006. At the time, city officials claimed they were improving the airport, when they were actually trying to close the facility and possibly sell the land to developers. AOPA emphasized the positive economic impact of the airport, followed by the FAA nixing the closure effort, pointing out to city officials that it could never be closed because 14 acres of the facility was purchased with federal money targeted specifically for improvements.
Maxwell died in August 2010. A dedication ceremony for the newly named Bob Maxwell Field will take place March 9. The Oceanside Airport Association is taking tax-deductible donations to pay for the facility’s new monument sign and plaque. Reach them at Oceanside Airport Association, P.O. Box 172, Oceanside, CA 92049-0172. In the memo line, include “Bob Maxwell Memorial (501 (c) (3) Tax ID 27-000167).”
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