Cable Airport is located in Upland, California, in the west end of San Bernardino County. The airport is situated on 105 acres and is home to more than 450 aircraft.
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Cable seems to have the same positive attitude about everything involving Cable Airport, and even though he's the president of what he proudly calls "the world's largest privately owned, public-use airport," he is first and foremost a savvy businessman. He knows that no self-respecting professional arborist could trim and haul those pesky fronds quicker or cheaper than he can do it. Less than a half-hour later, the fronds are loaded into a pickup truck and Cable is off to dispose of them.
Given Cable's willingness to do whatever it takes to take care of and promote the family airport, it's no wonder one local pilot who knew I was writing this story went to great lengths to make sure that I understood that Cable Airport is "like family here, where everyone takes care of each other."
In 1944 Dewey and Maude Cable bought 80 acres of rock and shrubs located north of the famed Route 66 near the San Bernardino Mountains with the dream of building an airport. In a fit of inspiration that provided start-up money, Cable sold 12 of those acres to Holiday Rock Co. Two months after starting construction, a 1,200-foot runway was completed. On May 23, 1945, Dewey Cable became the first person to land at what was soon to become Cable Clermont Airport when he touched down in his Porterfield CP-65.
Soon the second, longer runway was finished. More land was purchased and Cable, a man who once said, "The most important thing is to get up each day and get something done. Don't sit and dream about it, or draw pictures, get out and do it," had built hangars and gotten his hands on enough surplus equipment so that by 1953 Runway 6/24 was 3,150 feet long and more than 100 aircraft were based at Cable.
Cable fought to accomplish his dream. He had to drill a water well when the city wouldn't let him hook up to city water; he had to set up his own electrical powerplant when the power company refused him service. His can-do, never-give-up attitude contributed to the success of Cable Airport and generated the experience that later paid off for others in fights to protect both El Monte and Big Bear airports.
According to Bob Cable, one of the keys to his management style is to offer help to all the local nonprofit groups and to join the community. "Community involvement is my goal," he says. "It's my goal to make sure everybody in town knows about the airport."
Cable will tell you that running a profitable airport is hard work. Take, for instance, environmental concerns. "We have to be proactive on this stuff because they look at us first whenever there's a new law. We took out our below-ground fuel tanks seven years before the deadline. When the county told us that the runoff from our airplane wash rack was a pollutant, we put in the very first EPA-compliant fully clarifying wash-water system."
There are now more than 450 aircraft based at Cable. Because of the trust that the owners have in the airport management, the fuel service — which has been run by Marty Eisenmann for the past 21 years — has a key to every hangar door and there's a green-flag fueling system. Owners don't have to wait for the fuel truck after a flight; all that's required is to put a green flag outside. Before dawn of the next day all the green-flag airplanes will have been fueled.
North of Runway 6/24 there's a long line of shade hangars, and many a visitor is surprised to see many of the spaces occupied by motor homes and other non-flying vehicles. Cable explained that an empty shade hangar doesn't generate any income and that every nonairplane occupant has agreed to a 36-hour move-out clause in the event that airplane storage space is needed.
Cable builds hangars whenever he can afford it. When asked why public-controlled airports don't seem to understand the value of hangars, Cable says, "Politicians usually aren't around very long so they have a hard time getting approval to build projects that aren't going to start generating income for at least 10 years. We look a long ways down the road and we think hangars are a great investment."
Maniac Mike Stewart runs Maniac-Mikes Café that's located south of Runway 6/24. Short-term or restaurant parking is located just to the west of the wind tetrahedron. Park with the mains between the two painted lines and use a chock from the rack at the tetrahedron. Mike's is open every day from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, visit the Web site.
Runway 6/24 is 3,865 feet long and is served by a VOR approach off the Pomona VOR as well as a GPS RNAV approach. Cable Airport is located in a cutout of the Ontario International Class C airspace. Fly any farther than two miles south of the center of Cable Airport and you've penetrated the airspace.
The nearby airspace coupled with the large campus of the area colleges just to the west of the airport mandate the following procedures. No downwind, straight-out, or right-turn-out departures are permitted. Departures to the south from 24 are made from the end of the left crosswind, and departures to the east and west are made after turning to a midfield crosswind after left turns to the downwind. Landing-pattern entries are either 45 degrees to left downwind to 24 from the south, or midfield entry to left downwind to 24 from the north.
According to experienced local flight instructors, Cable Airport is immune to Santa Ana winds. They say it's very common for Cable to be landing on 24 even when the two closest airports, Ontario and Brackett Field, are reporting easterly winds. Although the airport has no official weather reporting, there is a live weather page on the airport Web site.
In conjunction with the nearby town of Upland's 100th anniversary and Cable Airport's sixtieth anniversary, the first event of the yearlong celebration was an air fair held on the first weekend in January. That's past but there are plenty more to come at Cable Airport. Enter Cable Airport (CCB) into your GPS and enjoy a flight to the world's largest privately owned, public-use airport.
E-mail the author at [email protected].
Links to additional information about Cable Airport may be found on AOPA Online