Sunday, July 24, 2005
Santa Paula Airport reopens to the public
By Cheri Carlson
The Ventura County (CA) Star
Santa Paula Airport was reopened for public use Saturday for the first time since the Santa Clara River tore through its runway in mid-February. The rain-swollen river shut down the 75-year-old airfield for five months after it eroded one-third of its only runway.
Home to more than 300 aircraft, the airport and the 26 businesses there have struggled since the storm, losing money and laying off staff, officials said. But on Saturday afternoon, as construction crews packed up their equipment, everyone celebrated.
“I was elated,” said Pat Quinn, secretary of the Santa Paula Airport Association. “The only thing is, I was tied up in the office and couldn’t fly myself.”
He plans to go up today, following in the path of about a dozen pilots who took off and landed Saturday. As word continues to spread, Quinn said, so will the number of planes coming in.
In March, Caltrans agreed to allow the airport to reopen on a limited basis with a shortened runway, but the facility has been available only to pilots based at the field. A flight school left, and sales fell at airport businesses. The airport hopes to eventually return to averaging 125 takeoffs and landings each day.
But, Quinn said, more work needs to be done. Tie-down areas were also lost in the storm, leaving “airplanes crammed into every nook and cranny” of the facility. Work is expected to start on that phase of reconstruction next month.
So far, repairing the airport property has cost about $635,000, Quinn said. The Santa Paula Airport Association received a Small Business Association loan to pay for repairs.
Another $4.8 million from the U.S. National Resources Conservation Service went into diverting the river and filling it with enough dirt to get the runway back.
Airport enthusiasts had a great time Saturday, but, Quinn said, the biggest party will come Aug. 6 and 7, when the Santa Paula Airport Association, Santa Paula city officials and the Aviation Museum of Santa Paula celebrate the airport’s return with the 75th Anniversary Air Fair.
We are elated to announce that the permanent runway 22/4 is now open to the public for normal operations as of 2:15pm Saturday, July 23.
We are repainted, at 60 feet wide, with paved overruns on either end that are officially taxiways.
Wednesday we will have a small repair operation for drainage purposes on the west end, north side of runway. We will let you know if the runway needs to be briefly closed for that repair.
We no longer have a taxiway; not enough clear distance north of the runway centerline for a legal taxiway so CalTrans has insisted no taxi line for safety reasons.
Please always use extreme caution when taxiing [and driving] south of the yellow Object-Free line.
After the 75th Airfair, Aug 6 & 7, we will remove and repaint that yellow solid & dashed line slightly south of the existing restricted Ops line. We will also paint a similar line on the south side of the runway. These lines will be 125′ from the runway centerline. That will allow auto traffic to stay outside of the yellow lines and Object-Free Area which is intended for airplanes. Please taxi outside of the yellow lines whenever possible to leave room for landing and departing traffic.
We will publish more complete information next week. Enjoy the weekend and please come to the AirFair and support your airport.
Many thanks for your patience during this lengthy repair.
Please call the office if you have any questions.