Sometimes this headline is the only press we receive at General Aviation airports. While this is comical and lighthearted, the lack of education about the value of our airports in the non-flying public, as well as perhaps a bit of apathy on the part of the flying public, can be very dangerous indeed. As you will see below, our GA airports are a goodwill generator, and an economic engine for a community.
This past Saturday was a perfect day at Oceano Airport [L52]. The temperature at the coastal airport was 75 degrees with a light breeze. With our December 5th Toys for Tots event coming up, it was a day for decorating. I suppose I was at the airport for about two hours. What struck me was the amount of activity at this small G.A. airport.
- SkyDive Pismo Beach was busy dropping divers who must have had an awesome view of the Pacific Ocean. The jump plane was at the pumps of Oceano Fuel at least three times.
- Banner Airways was giving aerobatic flights in the 1943 Super Stearman. They had just filmed a wing-walking segment for the local newscast.
- I spoke with visitors who flew in from Palo Alto because they had always wanted to camp here.
- Another couple from Long Beach borrowed the Fly N Ride bikes we have available for loan to ride to the Monarch Grove and the Pismo Pier.
- Two Pilots N Paws planes came in, coordinating the transfer of several doggies to their forever homes.
- I also spoke with a family with younger children. They were thrilled that the beach was within walking distance, as was a county park with play area.
- A student and instructor from Pacific Aerocademy were working the circuit.
- And Friends of Oceano Airport volunteers were fixing tubes on our loaner bikes and getting ready for Toys for Tots.
Do I think that there is something special about Oceano Airport? Or was this a typical day at most any GA airport? Well, I do believe that our area on the Central Coast of California is very special. To have a 75-degree day in early November, well it makes the high price at the gas station almost worth it. However, I think that our smaller GA airports all have something special to offer our visitors and communities.
In 2010 I formed the Friends of Oceano Airport to mobilize the pilot population and community to protect our airport from a developer who decided he had a better idea of how to use the land Oceano sits on. Over the objections of county officials, he pressed ahead with highly controlled “public” meetings to try to win community support to close the airport and let him build on it. Fortunately we were able to revitalize the airport through some general upkeep, but more importantly entice visitors and our local community to come to the airport by having fun events.
I made the following graphic for a presentation series a few years back. Hopefully we can all keep in mind that we need to be protective of our community airports.