Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Lake Arrowhead Airport Open for Business!
By Mary-Justine Lanyon
The Crestline (CA) Courier-News If it’s true, as Mark Bayley believes, that every place that’s any place has an airport, then Lake Arrowhead has arrived. That’s because Bayley has gotten full approval from the county, state and federal governments to operate the Lake Arrowhead Airport. The airstrip has existed at The Lost Ranch for 50 years as a private runway. With its full approval, Bayley can offer travel packages, air charters and access to the Lake Arrowhead communities for pilots all over the country.
Bayley and some friends have used the airstrip since he purchased the ranch in 2001, but the use he points to with pride is the use by emergency personnel during several fires-the Willow Fire in 1999, the Old Fire in 2003, and the Pinnacle Fire in 2006. Aircraft, primarily helicopters, landed to pick up ground crews and deliver them to the fire line, to refuel and to make repairs. They also dipped their water baskets into the lake at the ranch.
That use in an emergency situation is why Bayley feels the airport is so important to the mountain communities. And he’s not alone in his feelings. A number of agency personnel wrote letters of support for the airport as Bayley was seeking its approval.
The airport has been endorsed by Fire Marshal Peter Brierty, assistant chief of the San Bernardino County Fire Department; Captain Toby Tyler of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s aviation division; James Jenkins, assistant director, San Bernardino County Airports; John Winder, chief of air operations, CAL FIRE; Gerry Newcombe, president of the Arrowhead Communities Fire Safe Council; Dave Stuart, executive director of Rebuilding Mountain Hearts & Lives; the California Highway Patrol aviation division; the Lake Arrowhead Communities Chamber of Commerce; the American Red Cross; and the Civil Air Patrol.
Bayley sees the airport playing an important role in the mountain communities in the event of a major earthquake. Because there are massive, unstable geologic formations above and below the roads that access the mountain communities, he said, he suspects the roads will sustain major rockslides, effectively cutting us off from help and supplies.
“This airport,” Bayley said, “could sustain the entire community, from Crestline to Green Valley Lake.”
Bayley is delighted that Cheryl Nagy, the airport manager, has just been appointed to the governor’s Disaster Corp Project. “Since the airport will be a key component of that program for the mountain communities,” Bayley said, “I’m pleased to have her with the airport.”
He has already had conversations with the Red Cross and the OES about supply shipments coming into the airport. And he has talked with the Red Cross about storing emergency supplies-medical, food, water-in a hangar for use in the time of a disaster.
“The beauty of a hangar,” Bayley noted, “is it doesn’t burn and it won’t come apart during an earthquake because of its steel flex construction.”
HISTORY OF THE RANCH
The airstrip was originally brought to life by Allen Paulson, the founder of Gulfstream Jets. The ranch served as a retreat for his family and had served the same purpose for the previous two owners. The ranch’s history prior to that is somewhat more colorful.
William “Squint” Worthington used the ranch as the base of his moonshine operation. According to The Lost Ranch website, he provided his bootleg whiskey to the North Shore Tavern, the Saddleback Inn, the Chef’s Inn and the Tudor House. Law enforcement officers were never able to find his still.
Several of Worthington’s original apple trees are still thriving on the ranch. Bayley is nurturing them and using them to expand the apple orchard, so people can taste apples from the 1800s. He may also produce some legal “moonshine” with the Lost Ranch logo. Bayley has also planted a vineyard from which he will produce wine.
The ranch came to be known as “Squint’s Ranch” following its notorious use. Bayley is happy to have changed the name back to its original. “The Lost Ranch has a wonderful, Old West feel, full of romance and mystique,” he said.
TOURISM AND BUSINESS
Lake Arrowhead Airport will play an important role in recreation and business travel to and from the mountain communities. In addition to being open for pilots to fly in in their own planes, Bayley will offer air charter service. He feels Las Vegas will be a big destination, but he can fly people anywhere they need or want to go. He can also fly to people’s home airports, pick them up and fly them into Lake Arrowhead for a weekend or longer.
Local realtors, he said, are quite excited about the airport as high-end buyers will buy homes knowing they can fly in and out.
Airplane owners will be able to lease or purchase a hangar at the airport. Tie-downs are also available for those who fly in only occasionally. The airport will offer shuttle service to and from the airport and will also have rental cars available.
The 3,650-foot-long runway is made of hard-packed granite. It is rated for aircraft up to 12,500 pounds such as King Airs, Pilatus, Conquests, Commanders, Caravans and VLJs (very light jets). The VLJs, Bayley said, are currently the hottest segment of the aircraft market.
The 2.4-mile dirt road to the airport was built for the ranch under the 1862 Homestead Act around 1890 and has been in continuous use ever since. Unlike other mountain access roads, it has no steep gradients, no cliffs, no sharp curves and no unstable geologic formations above or below it.
In order for the airport to effectively serve all its intended purposes, the road must be upgraded. “We’ve been working with our friends at the U.S. Forest Service and the County of San Bernardino who understand the importance of this airport to the community,” Bayley said. “They also understand the importance of upgrading the road so we can help provide emergency services as well as business and recreational travel.”
Bayley specifically pointed to Mountaintop District Ranger Kurt Winchester as someone who has been a pleasure to work with. “He understands the issues this community faces with regard to disaster preparedness,” Bayley said. “He also understands the recreational and business applications the airport brings to the community.”
OTHER EVENTS AND ACTIVITIES
The Lake Arrowhead Airport is sponsoring a new chapter of the 99s, a national female pilots organization started by Amelia Earhart. “I strongly believe in women being involved in flying or wanting to learn more about the functions and safety of aircraft,” Bayley said.
A general membership and orientation meeting for licensed female pilots, student pilots and women interested in flying will be held on Sunday, Sept. 7 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa. For more information, call Patti Forsythe at (909) 337-2575 .
The third annual Lake Arrowhead Airport Wild West Air Show will be held on Saturday, Sept. 27 from noon to 6 p.m.
“God has blessed me with this incredible property,” Bayley said. “I am simply His steward and want to make it a premier emergency facility.
“Lake Arrowhead’s time for an airport has arrived.”
For more information on the airport and all these events, visit the website at www.lakearrowheadairport.com