April 23, 2014
By Benét J. Wilson
Visitors to California’s Camarillo Airport will have access to a new viewport and picnic area attached to the Waypoint Café on June 6 thanks to the efforts of the Ventura County chapter of The Ninety-Nines, Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 273, and the county department of airports.
Linda Ehrlich, chair of The Ninety-Nines chapter and marketing director of the Wings over Camarillo Air Show, spearheaded the project. “This effort was part of our efforts in community outreach. It was the idea of our past chair, who, unfortunately, died in a helicopter crash in 2013,” she said. “When I became chair, I wanted to do something more tangible for the community. We offer scholarships, but we have no physical presence in the community despite being in existence for 35 years.”
The chapter approached the department of airports and said they wanted to do something for the public at Camarillo, said Ehrlich. “The director said that the restaurant had a nice piece of property and the owner was looking at doing upgrades,” she recalled. “So we spoke with the owner, who leases the property from the airport. He agreed, so we got a landscape architect to do a design.”
The Ninety-Nines reached out to EAA and asked them to help raise money to build the park, said Ehrlich. “We sent our proposal to the airport authority in January, and it was approved.”
Besides offering a seating and viewing area, the main focus of the space is to educate people on who The Ninety-Nines and EAA are, along with a history of the airport, said Ehrlich. “We thought this was a great way to capture its clientele to educate them about aviation while they wait,” she said. “It’s a beautiful place to watch planes and see helicopters take off and land. It’s only open during restaurant hours.”
The group sold bench plaques, tables, and bricks to help fund the project, said Ehrlich. “We ended up raising $60,000. It came from sales, community donations and funds from The Ninety-Nines, EAA and the airport,” she said.
The community needed to see the passion that The Ninety-Nines and EAA members have as pilots for flying, said Ehrlich. “We hope we can capture the imagination of visitors, especially young people, so they can see that this exists and is obtainable,” she said. “And The Ninety-Nines want the public to know that there are a lot of women pilots out there too.”
The site, said Ehrlich, features a plaque with a quote from Amelia Earhart, a founder of The Ninety-Nines and its first president: “You haven't seen a tree until you've seen its shadow from the sky.”
AOPA eNewsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson joined AOPA in 2011. She is working on her private pilot certificate.
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