May/June 2002 BRIGHT FUTURE FOR CASTLE AIRPORT

Presidents Corner

BRIGHT FUTURE FOR CASTLE AIRPORT

Castle Air Force Base, near Merced, became Castle Airport after the military relinquished it to civilian control. The transition to civilian use was not as smooth as it should have been. A joint powers authority was formed to administer and operate the airport. The airport did not fare well under the authority.

The airport is now under control of the County of Merced. The county is taking its responsibility seriously and is implementing measures that will make Castle a world class airport. For instance, the county has committed $350,000 with no financial help from any other governmental agency for installation of an Instrument Landing System for the 11,800 foot Runway 31.

Airport Manager Scott Malta is enthusiastically and energetically inviting those who wish to establish both aviation related and non-aviation related business on the abundant available space. Scott speaks of Castle with loving nostalgia having been based there while serving as a fueling boom operator on Air Force KC-135 tankers. During a recent tour of the museum he pointed with pride to a KC-135 on which he served.

He holds a masters degree in operations and management from Embry-Riddle University. Before returning to Castle as manager, Scott was Operations Manager at the Roanoke Regional Airport in Virginia. Scott’s telephone number is (209) 384-7325; E-mail: smalta@co.merced.ca.us. If you are interested in starting a business at Castle, or just wish more information, call Scott.

The airport consists of approximately 3000 acres. Currently there are more than 40 business tenants at Castle with space for many more. Castle Air Museum is home to some 45 aircraft of WW 2 vintage ranging from a BT-13 trainer to an SR-71. A restaurant is situated adjacent to the Air Museum. Both are reachable from Highway 99 near the city of Atwater.

For those flying in, free transportation to the museum is provided by Stan Thurston and Jim Price, owners of Gemini Flight Support. Both 100 LL and jet fuel are available under the “Air BP” brand at Gemini.

You can call (209) 725-1455 to alert Stan and Jim of your approximate arrival time. Their web site is www.GeminiFlightSupport.com. You may also reach them by e-mail: gemini@elite.net.

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