Open Letter to the Santa Clara County Supervisors – Reid Hillview Airport

CALPILOTS response to Santa Clara County Supervisor Pete McHugh’s proposal to close Reid Hillview Airport.

County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors


To: Supervisor Pete McHugh

Date: March 17, 2008

From: Ed Rosiak
President- California Pilots Association

Subject: BOS-08-O12 Reid Hillview Airport

Dear Supervisor McHugh,
Thank you for including the California Pilots Association as a stakeholder regarding the latest consideration of one of Santa Clara?s and the state?s most important transportation infrastructure assets, Reid-Hillview Airport.

The California Pilots Association is a statewide, non-profit, volunteer organization formed in 1949 whose mission is to ‘Promote and Protect’ the state’s general aviation airports. We believe that our mission is to protect the state and its municipalities from themselves regarding the importance of all General Aviation airports, because it is our experience that most city and county councils have little or no airport expertise, or understanding of airports which makes it very difficult when it comes to making an important decision such as this one.

As an example, we do not consider the County’s recently released ‘what-if’ scenario on closing the airport valid based upon the fact that there is no calculation made on the huge amount of business that is done within the San Jose area by transit type business transactions due the use of the airport. When studies have been done, the influx of business dollars to the community due to the airport is always a surprise to the municipality and much larger then anticipated.

To say that we are disappointed in Santa Clara’s continued playing of politics with Reid-Hillview’s future would be an understatement. I would like to remind you as well as the rest of the Board of Supervisors that we have been down this road before. And, despite Mr. Kutras’ statement in the Mercury News, it was long before the bust.

Further, as an organization we want to make it clear that it is well documented, and known to those familiar with Reid-Hillview Airport, that a current sitting Supervisor made it her goal to close Reid-Hillview in the mid 90’s. During that time over a million dollars was wasted in study after study, done by Stanford Research Institute (SRI), which reported that the airport was the best and safest use of the land. We will not sit idly by and pretend that the results and the waste of precious resources did not happen. The County could certainly use that money now in this financial crisis.

We believe that most General Aviation airports are misunderstood and not viewed for their most important functions, which are transportation infrastructure and as a disaster recovery hub.

Make no mistake, Reid-Hillview Airport is as important to San Jose, as Highway 87 is to the downtown area. It provides a means of travel to and from the San Jose and Bay Area for many businessmen. Unfortunately, most General Aviation airports are incorrectly evaluated by how many aircraft are located there, and frankly, since many city and county councils have allowed private residences to encroach our airports, noise and safety issues continue to grow.

Reid-Hillview Airport is much more than a base for aircraft, not to mention all the jobs currently located there. It is a hub for commerce and an emergency portal, which will be invaluable when the next major catastrophe, such as the Bay Area earthquake, happens again; and we know that it will.

The job of reducing the deficit is never easy. We understand that and know that you have to make some very difficult choices. We also know that this type of short term thinking is not the answer. Selling off important county assets will not solve the ongoing financial problems which have been growing for years and led to this situation.

We believe that Reid-Hillview deserves the county’s respect and understanding, and should not be poorly treated as it has. It is an important community asset, responsible for millions in business dollars to the community annually and serving an important role as a disaster recovery hub for Santa Clara Valley.

While we do not wish to create more issues for the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors, we must respectfully advise you that we will join the efforts of the national and local aviation organizations to do whatever it takes and will enlist the assistance of the FAA to stop the closure efforts of Reid-Hillview Airport.

Thank you for your time and consideration on this critically important matter.


Ed Rosiak
President – California Pilots Association

cc. Santa Clara County Supervisors

PS. We will post this letter on our web site ( and publish it in our bi-monthly newsletter which is received statewide and by all western state aviation organizations.

Editor’s Note: As expected, the Santa Clara County Supervisors voted to review the options to close Reid-Hillview Airport. Since the FAA has already stated they will not allow it, the waste of resources continues. No surprise here.

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