19 August 2022
Open letter to the California AAM Community RE: Reid-Hillview Airport Day, 3 September 2022, and other eVTOL display opportunities in California in the next six months Dear California Advanced Air Mobility Creators & Leaders, As many of you may be aware there are eﬀorts by many Santa Clara County elected oﬃcials to close Ried-Hillview Airport (RHV) under the pretense of “lead poisoning from leaded Aviation fuel”. It’s not about the lead, its about the 180 acres of land to develop in East San Jose from closing RHV.
Plus the removal of the Part 77 airport protections of height restrictions around RHV and airport safety zones, which is fueling the avarice towards the airport. The California Pilots Association (CalPilots) has been deeply involved in protecting RHV for many years. Currently we need assistance from the Creators and Leaders of the future of California’s aviation sector for an AAM marketing moment at RHV with a public display of your electric and eVTOL aircraft, or trade show display models and materials.
We in the larger California aviation community need to lend our support to our fellow airmen and aviation service providers at RHV on September 3, 2022 by bringing as many electric, and hybrid electric Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) aircraft to RHV for display that day. Many of you were participants in the ‘PBS NOVA: The Great Electric Airplane Race’ that was released in May 2021. I would like to think we could have a local gathering of these eVTOL craft for public display to highlight where this near certificated technology currently is.
Such an electric aircraft display would show the value of the airport for all to see in Santa Clara County and beyond. In addition this would give each of you the opportunity to initiate a dialog with San Jose State Aeronautics aviation students and faculty to create a workforce development program to meet the AAM sectors needs when your commercial operations begin in the Greater Bay Area and Southern California. Plus this could begin local community situational awareness of AAM aviation job growth discussions at RHV and within Santa Clara County. I know this is a large request, and may/will require FAA approvals to fly your electric & hybrid electric aircraft in the urban setting of East San Jose to RHV.
However, given the Part 13 Informal Investigation the FAA initiated towards Santa Clara County (SCC) on December 22, 2021, such AAM aircraft displays might be able to get FAA approvals to help keep RHV as an airport in the long run. Furthermore, many of your designs are very mature, and well into flight certification testing programs where known safety accomplishments are in hand on the road to commercial operations in California’s NAS. Given the economic demographics of the AAM potential market from San Francisco to RHV in San Jose, it is highly critical to have RHV airport as a base of AAM operations for regional transfer of passengers, maintenance, recharging, and over night aircraft parking to serve this local regional air taxi market. Please think in terms of how RHV will become a critical airport for your business plans in 2 to 5 years. We need to protect RHV airport today for that future use, as it can become a significant job development center for aviation’s future and benefit the people of East San Jose for generations to come. Our collaborative eﬀorts can build that future opportunity. In May of 2021 there was a very concerning statement by the primary RHV airport antagonist, SCC Supervisor Cindy Chavez, where she stated that “electric aircraft would not be operational for maybe 20 years”. Many of you know that perspective is patently false on multiple levels. On July 28th, 2022 Ms. Chavez spoke at a Congressional hearing Chaired by Ro Khanna, from Santa Clara County’s 17th Congressional District.
The hearings title: “Toxic Air: How Leaded Aviation Fuel is Poising Americas Children”, aptly defines the context of the singular context presented into the congressional record. This hearing had a singular fixation on aviation fuel, while omitting any discussion of other potential sources of lead in the environment such as legacy agricultural lead arsenate, leaded paint, lead in water pipes, legacy automotive leaded fuel exhaust residue, and potential lead sources from ethnic foods and ‘home medical remedies’ from various cultures. All of these environmental lead sources have been articulated on the SCC Public Health website and reference California Department of Public Health materials on environmental lead sources, and where there seems to be very little mention of aviation fuels. CalPilots has been researching this matter for years and we have discovered many scientific studies that document significant areas in both California and other regions across our nation, where higher Blood Lead Levels (BLL) in people, both children and adults exist. Many of these communities have no airport near them for a source of aerial lead deposits. One of the more interesting studies from 2011 documented how nearly 30% of all airborne lead in the San Francisco Bay Area originated from industrial production in Asia and is transported via the jet stream across the Pacific Ocean, to be deposited in the micro climate of the Bay Area. This is a very complex issue that has many aspects to fully vet in the course of time for those who are interested. Yet we need to keep focused on the near term opportunities to promote the future of electric aviation for the benefit of our California communities in the longer term. With Reid-Hillview Airport Day, the local airport supporters, and people interested in aviation will visit the ramp area. In the past there has been 8,000 to 12,000+ visitors to this event. Given the current community discussions regarding RHV’s future there may be more this year. It can be an exceptional opportunity to show the future of where aviation will serve the transportation needs for all California communities in the years and decades to come. In the last 70+ years Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs have enhanced the quality of life both in our nation, and around the world. In addition one never knows how the children who visit Reid-Hillview Day will be inspired by what they see to consider a career in aviation.
Given the creative talent, and various technologies in the Greater Silicon Valley area, the AAM sector will promote economic growth and job creation in the region for years to come. This story needs to be shared at Reid-Hillview Airport Day. Many AAM enterprises are supported by United States Air Force AFWERX and Agility Prime programs which are leveraging innovative products and accelerating innovation by fiscal support of public/private partnerships for rapid growth in the electrification of flight. Furthermore, there is extensive research by NASA AMES Research center at Moﬀett field that supports many eVTOL firms pro-generating the eVTOL sector and air traﬃc management systems, also known as UTM (Urban air mobility Traﬃc Management).
The point is many national aeronautical resources have been invested in Santa Clara and San Mateo County business enterprises, and the public should see the fruits of that investment to help protect RHV airport for the longer term at the same time. Two notable local examples are how JOBY announced last week how they have working agreements with the US Air Force, Navy, Army, and now the Marines, to do flight testing, with an expanded contract now worth $75 million. ARCHER has received a $10 million payment from United Airlines towards the purchase of 100 eVTOL aircraft that eventually will be used in the skies above both Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties as passengers fly towards SFO and beyond, once certification is obtained from the FAA. These two eVTOL firms are also working with many suppliers in the region, so there is an economic multiplier from their individual eﬀorts.
These are real time events that need to expand beyond the limits of the AAM and aviation community media “echo chamber”. Landed displays at RHV Airport Day will yield significant public awareness for everyone’s long term benefit of where air travel is rapidly progressing. Please consider this request for display at this event from a longer term perspective. In anticipation of electric aircraft that might be able to come to RHV Airport Day, secure hangar facilities are available should there be a need of overnight parking, and electrical charging could be available once the amperage needs are known. This also includes potential hybrid electric aircraft that could fly into RHV. There are a number of potential UAS passenger and cargo craft that could be trucked for display, IF there is interest and willingness to support this opportunity for the future of aviation. These are details that will be worked out to meet your unique individual needs. Should there be any questions please contact me directly, Gill Wright #916-692-8302, or cell 303-435-8178 and we will work out your specific needs.
In addition to RHV Airport Day there are three additional events in the next 6 months that might be of interest to the Creators & Leaders of California’s AAM sector. They are as follows; 1. Association of California Airports Annual Conference, September 14-16, at South Lake Tahoe: This annual conference brings together airport managers from many of California’s smaller airports, airport consultants, and the FAA’s Airport District oﬃces to discuss various issues facing our airports. Many airport managers have meetings with their ADO’s regarding upcoming Airport Improvement Program (AIP) Grants, and plan for the next 2-5 years of how to care for each airport. This presents a unique forum for AAM creators & leaders to both speak during sessions of the conference, and to meet privately with airport leadership to anticipate your needs for regional flight testing, and when the AAM sector will begin commercial operations. 2. California Capital Airshow, September 30th, October 1 & 2, in Sacramento @ Mather Airfield (MHR): This is one of California’s premier airshows that will draw from 120,000 to 160,000 people over the airshow weekend. This year’s theme is the 75th Anniversary of the US Air Force, as such this would be a good opportunity to display the AAM results of the AF WERKX and Agility Prime investments to a much larger audience. In addition there is the Sacramento legislative community that can be invited to view how these eVTOL and hybrid-electric aircraft will enhance California’s transportation of cargo and people, to enhance the state’s economic vitality in the years to come. 3. Aviation Awareness Day at the Capital in Sacramento, sometime in February or March 2023:
This event is organized by the Association of California Airports and California Pilots Association to work with the State Aviation Caucus to promote California’s airports and the economic contributions of California’s aviation communities to the elected members of the California Senate and Assembly. This 2 day event has scheduled direct meetings with elected members and staﬀ to discuss issues pertinent to our aviation industry. These direct meetings are prelude to the Aviation Awareness Day Display Tent on the West Capital lawn for industry participants to present their unique aspects of the aviation enterprise. In the past 10 years of this event, it has been an eﬀective way promote and protect California’s GA airports. Over the past century of California’s rich and diverse aviation, and aerospace industries, there have been many created “Lindbergh Moments” which enhanced the quality, and enlarge what was possible for people to observe, experience, and expanded the economic opportunities for many generations. Over the past few decades, many creative minds have endeavored to electrify flight with the emerging technologies we see coming forth in the AAM sector today. We in aviation have a responsibility to help educate the larger public of the economic multiplier that all aspects of aviation brings to modern life in the early 21st century. Many of us grew up with ‘Jetson’ cartoons, and some of you went on to build those dreams of that youth. Let us promote the created reality of eVTOL, and the hybrid electric aircraft, that will take the next generation of our youth to places we cannot see today. It is in all of our best interests to collaboratively protect Reid-Hillview Airport now, and other airports in California, for the future opportunities you have built today. I look forward to working with you on these ideas, and realities, for the benefit of our state’s economic vitality with the implementation of AAM in the very near future. Sincerely, J. Gill Wright VP Region 2 California Pilots Association ph 916-692-8203 cell 303-435-8178 CC: Carol Ford, President, California Pilots Association Andy Wilson, Director at Large, California Pilots Association Andrew Swanson, President, Association of California Airports