Redlands Airport Association and the Airfest Event @ REI

The Redlands Airport Association (RAA) was formed in June 2014, for the purpose of assembling many different Redlands Airport (REI) interests to come together as one voice. This has been a challenging undertaking for all involved, but positive results have already been witnessed.

For the past few years, a local brewery has held an airshow of sorts at REI called AirFest. These events have been held to celebrate the brewery’s anniversary.

The last two events held at REI were not your traditional airshows. The focus was more on beer with an occasional airshow act to entertain Airfest guests. The brewery is a large revenue producer for the City of Redlands and their needs of the airport users has been secondary to brewery interests. Last year the airport was closed for two days while the brewery crowd wandered the beer trucks offering the latest brew. Airport operations were shut down for at least two days for the entire airport. Some tenants were impacted for 5 days.

Most of us at REI called these events “BeerFest” or the like. They were planned with little involvement of the REI airport community. REI tenants and businesses did not feel as if they had a voice.

This year, the RAA members have taken an active role in the planning of this year’s AirFest event at REI, working closely with the airport community, the city council, the airport advisory board, and the sponsoring brewery in an attempt to negotiate a more tenant-friendly event than what we experienced the last two years.

An airshow committee was formed, with representatives from the RAA, EAA845, airport advisory board, local business owners, hangar tenants, airport community members, brewery representatives, and city council members. There have been numerous meetings held. It has been a battle. REI airport users are not going to get everything they want but there has been some headway in the negotiations.

So where are we to date on negotiations?

The Brewery’s Initial Proposal:

  • A 1-day event.
  • A crowd line approximately 300′ from the centerline of the runway resulting from a desire to land aircraft.
  • A 1-day airport closure requiring hangar owners to vacate their hangars.

The City of Redlands requested temporary chain-link fences for the crowd line (like last year).

  • A 2-day closure of the west ramp.
  • A temporary parking area for REI owners wanting to use their aircraft during the airport closure, but before and after the TFR associated with the flying portion of the event.
  • A commitment to make the event more family friendly.
  • A concert is part of the event plans.
  • Where we are to date.
  • A 1-day event.
  • A crowd line approximately 300′ from centerline of the runway resulting from a desire to land aircraft.
  • A 4½ hour closure that will require all hangar owners/tenants to vacate their hangars and the area east of the west ramp for 4½ hours during the flying portion of the event.
  • There will not be any fences east of the west ramp on the airport. This will allow aircraft use immediately before and just after the TFR.
  • The west ramp will be impacted before and after the event with set-up and tear down activities. The schedule for this is a “work in progress”.
  • Coyote FBO will have access to the runway, except during the event. The hours are still not established. Coyote owners will have walking access to their hangars for the entire event.
  • A clear zone in the event layout on the west ramp will allow aircraft access from Coyote Hangars to the runway during the event if someone has an emergency requiring them to use their plane.
  • Alcohol sales will be contained to the west side of the west ramp.
  • The east side of the west ramp will contain a ‘kid’s zone. ‘
  • We are being told there will be an area to exhibit aircraft.
  • We are being told that airport businesses will be given booths to promote their business.
  • Airport tenants will get free passes to AirFest 2015. Details not yet established.
  • We are being told that brewery will be seeking volunteers from high schools, CAP, and the airport users.
  • A concert is part of the event plans.

Although there are still many airport community members that are not happy with the brewery sponsored airshow, RAA believes that a properly managed event at the airport will help REI and the airport community. The following statements are part of the RAA mission statement and are directly related to making sure the AirFest benefits all parties involved:

· To promote, support, and encourage the continued use of REI.

· To communicate the airport’s importance to the community.

Two of the areas where there are still challenges include the focus on beer sales and the lack of family activities at this beer drinking event. Here are the identified issues and recommended resolutions brought forth from this committee that are still under negotiation:

ISSUE: AIRSHOW COMPATIBILITY WITH ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION

Previous airshows main thrust has been sale of product (beer). 2014’s show had at least 8 beer service booths. This type of layout has the potential to promote excessive alcohol consumption, as it appeared to be the main theme of the event. The site layout did not afford the exhibit of the typical aircraft, and aviation themed booths and activities associated with airshows. The event as conducted in the past had the potential for significant liability for the brewery and the City of Redlands as a result of the unusual combination of alcohol sales and consumption in and around aircraft operation.

RECOMMENDED RESOLUTION(S):

– Create an enclosed Beer Garden in ONE location ONLY, parallel along the fenced-in area WEST of Coyote Hangars. Sale of alcohol exclusively to individuals with approved wristbands. No children allowed in this area.

– Move music event to another venue, such as the Redlands Sports Park.

ISSUE: LACK OF FAMILY ORIENTATED ACTIVITIES

2014: Blow-up climbing activity was located in front of runway, which caused visual OBSTRUCTION as well as usage of much needed space exclusive for the public’s purposes to enjoy aviation activities. No involvement from groups such as the EAA, Model Airplane Club, Boy Scouts, or other youth organizations typically seen at airshows.

RECOMMENDED RESOLUTION(S):

– Place ALL, well-chosen children’s aviation activities to the TIE DOWN parking, east of Coyote Hangars, immediately to the RIGHT after entering the premises through ticketing gates.

– Locate first-aid station nearby children’s aviation activities area, with proper signage.

– Move adult orientated alcohol consumption area to a fenced beer garden.

– Involve EAA, Model Airplane Club, Boy Scouts, and other youth organizations typically seen at airshows in this event.

In the end, the Air Fest event will be a compromise for every party involved. However, with the addition of the RAA, there has been a significant increase in the voice of the community as to how the airshow operates; one that benefits the city, the airport, and the sponsoring brewery. We, the members of the airport community, are looking forward to a positive relationship that benefits all.

Note: RAA leaders attended AOPA’s fly-in this year at CNO. While speaking to the AOPA leadership about an obstacle issue at REI and the 2014 AirFest event, it became obvious that AOPA’s support is more focused on dealing with strategic national issues facing general aviation than local airport issues. RAA needed some serious help dealing with their local issues at REI and organizing as an advocacy group. RAA leaders met CalPilots President, Corl Leach at the fly-in. The result was the beginning of a positive relationship between the RAA and CalPilots. It was obvious from the beginning that CalPilots is the organization that most closely aligns its mission with the RAA. RAA is in the process of becoming a CalPilots chapter.

Doug Williams RAA Editor

Ted Gablin RAA President.

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