Cable Airport Acts as Alternative to L.A./ONT

Comparing overhead photographs of Upland’s Cable Airport shows the enormous growth in the area since Dewey Cable started the place back in 1945. “Back then it was mostly brush and lemon groves,” said Bob Cable, Dewey’s grandson, and the third generation to run this privately owned airfield. Today, however, this well-run and tidy place at the foot of the mountains, acts as an alternative to the busy commercial Ontario airport nearby. But Cable is strictly a recreational airport serving the needs of some 320 pilots who use it as a base.

“We have around 200 hangars here,” said Chuck Barett, the manager. “But we’re hoping to add more as demand increases.”

The strange thing is that some people who have lived in Upland all their lives don’t know there is an airport here, although lots of activities take place on a regular basis.

“One of my ambitions is to be able to knock on any door and have the occupants say they have been here,” said Cable.

He also told me that statistically most inherited business die with the third generation. “That’s not going to happen here,” he emphasized.

Cable has almost built out the 100 acres that the airport covers, but he has also put in a small and very attractive business park to provide income for the future.

Some of the original hangars built by his grandfather are still in operation. “He used scrap metal and axle parts for the construction,” he said. “He was not a pilot to begin with; he was a farmer out of Dysart, Iowa. But he learned to fly eventually.”

Both Cable and Barett reported that there is still a great deal of interest and enthusiasm for flying and perhaps the future could be in the new Light Support Aircraft now coming into use. “It’s a little easier to get an FAA license,” Barrett reported.

But the anticipated Very Light Jets (V.L.J’s) are still a few years off. “Even though we do have the fuel for them.”

The hangars have a wide variety of aircraft in them, and there are many more parked outside on the tarmac.

One prized plane is a 1985 Antonov-2. It’s a bright yellow bi-plane, and was used in the Bosnian conflict as a jump plane. “It has the longest production run of any aircraft,” Cable said.

“It’s a Russian plane originally built in 1947, but then they were built in Poland. Today, if you want one you can get it from the Chinese. It’s the largest single engine aircraft in the world.” It sat immaculate, glinting in the sun.

But running a private airfield is not always easy. “We always get the first of the regulations to deal with,” Cable said.

“For instance, putting in the new washing bay required a huge array of environmental issues, like underground waste tanks.”

Events at the airfield are not always aviation related. They hold a regular electronics swap meet and the local Boy Scout troop holds is meetings there.

There is a nice caf and also an outside area where you can sit and watch the planes take off. “We also have the first air event of the season just after the first of the year,” said Barrett.

The Ontario Police have their helicopter base there as it’s less crowded than the busy commercial Ontario Airport. “We’re proud to have emergency rescue services here,” said Cable.

During my visit the 3,875 feet long runway was quite active with take-off and landings, as the pilots came in their view must be so different from the one that Dewey Cable’s first customers had 65 years ago.

For more information on Cable Airport, go to their web site.

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