Vanishing California Airports

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This list is from the California Pilot’s Association website, dated Jan. 14, 2008.  It shows an alarming trend of airport closures throughout California.  Since 1990, we have lost 25 airports.  This represents an irreparable loss to the state’s aviation infrastructure.  If there was any doubt about the threat to general aviation in our State, this list put’s that doubt to rest.

Airport                                              County                            Year Closed

Alta Airport                                       Tulare                                   1994

Antioch Airport                                 Contra Costa                        1990

Atwater Airport                                 Merced                                 1994

Bear Creek Airport                             Riverside                              1998

Borges-Clarksburg                            Yolo                                     1998

Calistoga  Airpark                              Napa                                    1990

Carmel Valley Vintage Airport           Monterey                              2002

Eagleville                                           Modoc                                  2002

Enterprise Skypark                             Shasta                                  1994

Gallaher Airport                                 Tulare                                   1994

Green Acres Airport                           Tulare                                   1992

Holtville Airport                                 Imperial                                 2002

Meadowlark Airport                            Orange                                  1990

Natomas Airport                                 Sacramento                           2002

Pearce Field Airport                            Lake                                      1994

Pixley                                                 Tulare                                    1998

Rancho California                               Riverside                               1990

Redding Sky Ranch Airport                 Shasta                                   1994

Rio Bravo Airport                                Kern                                       2002

San Ardo Airport                                 Monterey                               1994

Santa Rosa Air Center                         Sonoma                                 1992

Shannon Airport                                 Trinity                                    1990

Shingletown                                        Shasta                                    2002

Sun Hill Ranch Airport                       San Bernardino                      2002

Vacaville Gliderport                            Solano                                    1990        

This information is attributed to Caltrans, the department of aeronautics. 

I wonder…. if it was 25 highways closed since 1990, would we be so complacent?  Would there be more than the local pilot’s outcry against the pending closure of Rialto  by 2010?  Our airports are vanishing and bit-by-bit the ability of the average person to fly is being eroded away.


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Airplanes that can repair themselves?

A recent article in the Science Daily details a 3-year research project ‘Bleeding Composites; Damage Detection and Repair Using a Biomimetic Approach’.  Incredibly, within 5 years aircraft may be able to mend themselves, even in flight.

It works something like this.  If a tiny hole or crack appears in the airplane (maybe due to wear or fatigue), epoxy resin would ‘bleed’  from embedded vessels near the damage and seal it up, sort of like a scab.  Dye added to the resin would mark the ‘self repairs’ for future ground inspections so more permanent repairs could be made. 

Hollow glass fibres contained in the FRP composite material would be filled with resin and hardener.  When the fibres break, the resin and hardener would ooze out creating the “scab”.  The repairs are expected to result in  recovery of 80%-90% of the original strength of the material and would occur automatically as the damage ocurred, even in flight.

According to Dr. Ian Bond, who has led the project, “this approach can deal with small scale damage that’s not obvious to the naked eye but which might lead to serious failures in structural integrity if it escapes attention.  It’s intended to complement rather than replace conventional inspection and maintenance routines, which can readily pick up larger scale damage, caused by a bird strike, for example.”

This technique which mimics the natural bruising/bleeding/healing processes of our own bodies has been developed by aerospace engineers at Bristol University.  This new technique can be used  wherever fibre-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites are used.  These materials are increasingly popular for use in aircraft, automobiles and even spacecraft.

One important benefit may be aircraft designs using more composite materials in place of aluminum.  The resulting reduction in weight could lead to substantial fuel savings over the coarse of an airplanes lifetime.  In aircraft FRP composites can be used in any part of the fuselage, nose, wings, and tailfins.

This new self-repair technique may be availble for commercial use within 4-5 years.

Call for Support and Donations to Help Watsonville Airport

The Coalition for Responsible Airport Management and Policy (CRAMP) is calling for donations to a legal fund in support of the Watsonville Pilot’s Association to fight the City of Watsonville’s appeal.  This comes in the wake of the Santa Clara County’s rejection of Reid-Hillview Airport closure.

Contributions should be sent to the Watsonville Pilots Association at PO Box 2074, Freedom, CA 95019-2074.  Checks should be made payable to “WPA” and mark the memo section “legal fund”.

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