Meeting Minutes of SoCal Airport Volunteers ? Jan 24, 2004

A meeting was held at Blue Skies Flight School at VNY. The meeting was put together by Jack Kenton (CPM) and hosted at Blue Skies by Elliot Sanders (VNY). A summary of airport status/issues can be read below.

Jack Kenton opened the meeting by explaining that his intent for the meeting was to help build mutual support among those who had volunteered to represent the area airports. The idea is to be able to easily exchange airport information on those efforts that have been successful and those that have not. The goal here is that we should all have a good idea of what to try at the local level before asking for outside help. Another important goal of the meeting is to help everyone to know that they are not alone. What we are doing, others are doing at other airports. Hopefully, this last bit of mutual support would help sustain us when we might otherwise become discouraged.

Reviewing the situations at various airports, the following items were brought out.

At Montgomery Field (San Diego), Rich Beach indicated that he got involved because of newspaper reports that, a year back, the locals had an airport redevelopment plan that did not include having an airport. Rick indicated support from the AOPA (and the membership clout that it carries), as well as discussions with the city about military land grants and financial grants from the FAA have appeared to be successful in countering the ?redevelopment? plan. Aircraft operations and noise have not appeared to be an issue.

At Burbank, Jackie Forsting pointed out that the airport has been pushing out the small airplanes. Just a few short years ago, there were at least 3 flight schools providing flying lessons. Now there are absolutely NONE. There are two FBOs but they cater mostly to the turbo-prop and biz jet crowd. The remaining small plane owners that use the few tie-downs and hangar space available are constantly reminded that those spaces may soon not be available and the monthly fees are becoming fiscally unfeasible for many.

Santa Monica, for which Steve Danz was standing in, is an airport in continuous crisis. Steve said that, before he ?retired? from the airport representative position, he routinely received calls from corporate pilots who were being fined by Santa Monica?s managers. They would be asked for $10K for a noise violation and then, after a fifth violation, they would be barred from the airport. The arrival and departure routes of aircraft, in this sound-sensitive area, are always a problem. One thing that SMO had going for it was the number of Angel?s Flight operations that were carried out from the field. These operations, often life-saving in nature, help to provide the locals with a ?good picture? of general aviation.

Hawthorne Airport was under threat of closure a couple of years ago. The city had a developer that wanted to close it and build a shopping mall in its place. As the city was looking for revenue sources, the developer?s promise that it could provide it with a greater return on investment (by building the mall) looked enticing. Gary Parsons says that the airport community has been successful in changing all of this. Gary himself successfully ran for the city council. An active airport association was organized and a political action committee (PAC) set up to help support city candidates that were not advertising to be ?anti-airport.? Gary indicates that he has first-hand experience in this effort to sway the local voters? opinions about their airport. The key to the city council?s votes is with getting vocal ground support from the voters. They did it. Political power is successful; getting favorable newspaper reporting is necessary. Youth programs help, as both the media and the typical city council will respond well to programs for youngsters. One good youth program is the EAA?s program of Young Eagle rallies (any associated adults that ask for and get rides adds a little icing on the cake).

Palomar Airport, per visiting user Ron Cozad, is another airport that seems to be pushing out the small airplanes. Ron says that the airport has eight master leaseholders and one who is located in the center (where Palomar Airport Center is) has plans for building new hangars that will house 19 jet aircraft. This progress looks good until one learns that, to do this, the 200 general aviation aircraft now parked at that location will have to go elsewhere ? and there is no elsewhere at CRQ. Ron says that they are organizing the pilots and are looking at submitting a formal complaint to the FAA (using the guidelines in FAR Part 16). As of now, the county has claimed to be indifferent to the airport plans. (That would seem to favor the eviction of the small GA folks).

In discussing the CRQ issue and how to get support for those now tied down there, the following suggestions were made. Get a local newsman/TV person involved (preferably a pilot type).

  • Do youth programs.
  • Arrange to show the AOPA video on ?the value of the local airport? to community service groups.
  • Organize the local pilots, earn money, and use it for affecting political action.
  • Follow up on a local survey of what alternative tiedowns are available to CRQ?s small aircraft.

    At VNY, our host Elliot Sanders endorsed the concept of political power. He is presently inquiring as to how he can get Mayor Hahn?s endorsement/appointment to a position influencing one of the committees affecting the management of VNY. The building in which we held this meeting is, Elliot said, programmed to be torn down so that new hangars could be build for jet aircraft. By having a loud voice, the small and propeller-driven airplane owners have been successful in delaying the demolishing of the buildings. Elliot hopes to see the VNY rebuilding plan changed so as to build replacement spaces and tiedowns for the areas? present occupants before tearing down the present structures and having tenants scramble for a new tiedown, office, or whatever.

    Hal Raish from Fullerton, says that the airport is doing pretty well. The FUL manager seems to be a savvy guy that has managed to run the airport in as close to a self-supporting manner as anyone has seen. The only issue that anyone has raised has been that of the Disneyland TFR. That appears to be a sensitive issue and the city does not want to pursue it.

    Jack Kenton spoke for Jim Gates of Torrance, pointing out the TOA situation in which they must pay, in addition to their hangar rent, a fire inspection fee of $50. They also have an issue in which the city discriminates among its tenants, charging hangar rent based upon whether the renter has a Torrance postal address (lower fee) or not. Finally, there is the question of airport land usage. A number of airport buildings were torn down and their businesses forced to move so that the Robinson Helicopter Co could expand. Now the city has leased five acres of ramp space to new car dealers that have, over the years, been able to get airport land for use as showrooms and auto sales support.

    At his own airport of Compton, Jack has been having an issue with the FAA as to inadequate obstruction lighting on the Compton Courthouse (209?AGL, approx .5 mi from R/W 25 threshold and the same distance north of R/W centerline. The FAA has been satisfied that the building meets lighting standards per the Advisory Circular on the subject. Jack was able to have a friend take a video of the building at night. He believes that it clearly shows that one needs to see the building?s shadow (against the city lights) in order to then pick out the obstruction lights. He will show the video at the L.A. County Aviation Commission meeting on 28 Jan. While Jack spoke of this night lighting problem, Hal Raisch mentioned the radio tower (826? MSL) at FUL. His tower is clearly seen at night, but not in the daytime.

    Jack is also pursuing an effort (correspondence with the FAA) to try to get CPM ?reinstated? in the Airport Facility Directory (AFD) for its VOT test signal. The signal, emanating from Palos Verdes peninsula, serves half-dozen airports in the area. The FAA has dropped CPM from the list of sites to use the signal because the guidance for testing appears to require one of the FAA?s jets (flight inspection aircraft) to land at CPM to verify the signal strength and validity. Jack thinks that this should be able to be done with a panel truck and an appropriately calibrated receiver.

    Jack also brought up the subject of SoCal Airspace. Los Angeles and San Diego each have an airspace users working group. Jack is co-chair of the Los Angeles group(Southern California Airspace Users Working Group ? SCAUWG) ; it meets at 10 AM on the second Tuesday of each month at LGB (Aeroplex). They work to resolve airspace issues and have FAA staff from SoCal Appch and Regional Staff at their meetings.

    Security ? fire, police, and other ? became a question at Jack?s CPM Airport on Friday. CPM is an untowered field and a police helicopter, practicing autorotations, descended over an amateur-built Thorp T18 and, upon seeing the airplane under it, is thought to have brought in power (?pulled pitch?) and blown the airplane over. That resulted in 15 to 20 police cars and upwards of 30 police officers coming to the airport, locking it down, and ? essentially ? instituting martial law on the airport. Everyone should check with their airport management to see what kind of an accident plan exists and who has what authority when it comes to closing the airport and locking out the airport?s users.

    Everyone showed an interest in continuing meeting with fellow airport volunteers. While the San Diego group was welcomed, it was also suggested that they consider orienting a group (from Camp Pendleton Marine Base to the south) among the airports in the San Diego area. From Camp Pendleton and north would center on the Los Angeles area. In the meantime, however, all airport volunteers are welcome at all meetings.

    We are planning a meeting for next quarter. Hal Raish says that he can host a meeting at FUL on April 3, 2004.

    Submitted by Jack Kenton