By Linda McIntosh
THE SAN DIEGO (CA) UNION-TRIBUNE
OCEANSIDE – He flies 767s for a living, but even in his off hours, Alan Cruise is rarely far from planes and airports. One of his favorites is the Oceanside Municipal Airport. That is where Cruise learned to fly 25 years ago when he was in high school and where he had his first aviation job pumping fuel. He dreamed of flying jets.
Now the seasoned commercial pilot likes to share his love of aviation. Cruise founded the Oceanside Airport Association three years ago to support aviation and preserve the airport, which was in danger of being closed.
“We want to get the word out so people understand what the airport does and why it’s important to them,” he said.
Even for those who are not aviation buffs, the airport provides a landing field in emergency situations. Helicopters can land there and bring critically injured patients quickly to hospitals. In an earthquake, the air field can be used if roads and bridges are impassable.
Established as a U.S. Navy alternate landing field, the airport has been in the San Luis Rey Valley since the 1930s.
In 1962, the runway was shifted a few hundred yards northeast to its current location. One of the goals of the 850-member association is to open up communication with the community.
“We want to answer their questions,” Cruise said. “I know that not everybody likes the airport.”
One of the main complaints is noise. Association members recently put together a noise abatement brochure with guidelines for pilots to keep noise down.
Often when Cruise is out at the airport, he carries a radio receiver and reminds pilots as they prepare to take off to follow noise abatement rules, such as flying over the river and state Route 76 to the ocean before making a turn.
“For me, flying is living out a dream, and I just want to help others get the same chance I had,” Cruise said.
One of his goals is to make the airport a friendly place, a place where people might come to see planes take off and land, just as they might watch boats in the harbor.
To encourage the community to come out to the airport, the association is hosting its third annual fund-raising barbecue.
Last year, a 1931 vintage biplane and a Ford Trimotor flew in.
The event announcement invites the public to fly in, walk in or bike in. But those flying in are asked to observe Oceanside’s noise abatement procedures.
The event is from noon to 3 p.m. April 3 at the airport, 480 Airport Road, and includes a static airplane display. Tickets are $5; and $4 for active-duty military.