Corona’s Airport to Reopen Temporarily

Saturday, January 22, 2005
Corona’s airport to reopen temporarily
FLOODING: Pilots and cleanup crews will have some time to enter this weekend.
By PAIGE AUSTIN
The Riverside (CA) Press-Enterprise

CORONA – The Corona Municipal Airport will reopen for a few hours today and Sunday to let pilots get their marooned planes out and to make it easier for crews to clean up the damage from recent flooding. The airport will reopen between 1 and 4 p.m. today and Sunday for departures only. The west end of the runway remains waterlogged and hasn’t been cleared to allow landings at the airport, said Corona Mayor Darrell Talbert.

“Any pilots who fear we are going to have a wet winter are encouraged to fly away and come back in the springtime,” said Talbert.

Storm water flooded the airport Jan. 10, causing the evacuation of about 200 planes and untold amounts of damage to planes, tools and helicopters stored in hangars that filled up with muddy water. Recent rains saturated the land, and more heavy rains could mean more flooding, Talbert said.

The temporary reopening will allow pilots to seek dry land at neighboring airports in Riverside, Chino or Fullerton. It will also clear up space for cleanup crews and reduce the security risk caused by people coming and going before the airport is fully operational, said police officials.

After Sunday, the airport will remain closed until it can be re-evaluated on Tuesday to determine if the runway is sound enough to handle landing planes.

Mary Jane Butt, who spent the last week trying to dig her aircraft-maintenance company out from under the mud, said she might use the opening to get her two planes to drier ground.

However, she doesn’t have much left to salvage as there was about $150,000 in equipment damage. “It’s the biggest mess,” she said. “Our hangar was under 11 feet of water. We had to buy a raft to get to it.”

Butt said she wonders why the pilots were never given any warning about the rising water levels.

While there may be tie-down space at local airports, there aren’t many hangars left for those who have equipment and fabric planes that need to be kept out of the sun, she said.

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