Airport's History

Agua Caliente

The County Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) has leased State lands for park and recreational purposes, namely the Agua Caliente Springs County Park, since before 1988.  In 2008, DPR entered into a new 20-year operating agreement with the State of California to provide for the development, operation, control, and maintenance of the park, consisting of approximately 900 acres. Under terms of an agreement with DPR, County Airports is responsible for development, operation, control, and maintenance of the approximately 55-acres Agua Caliente Airstrip within this park for the same 20-year period. County Airports may use the area as a public airstrip and for aircraft overnight parking or other aviation purposes.  Non-aviation use of the Agua Caliente Airstrip is strictly prohibited.

Borrego Valley

The Burnand family, developers of Borrego Springs, sold approximately 145 acres to the County of San Diego in 1947 for the development of Borrego Valley Airport. The County owns and operates the facility and contracts with an on-site manager for day-to-day operations.

Fallbrook Airpark
  • 1963 – Land deeded to the County of San Diego by the United States government to develop for public aviation use.
  • 1968 – Additional land deeded to the County of San Diego by the United States government for non-aviation development, co-located with aviation property. 
  • 1969 to 1997 – Operated by Fallbrook Community Airpark, Inc.
  • 1997 – County assumed management in November.


Gillespie Field
  • 1942 – Commissioned as a Marine Corps parachutists facility and named for Marine Lieutenant Archibald H. Gillespie. Camp Gillespie served in that capacity until Marine parachute units were phased out in1944.
  • 1946 – December, the County of San Diego leased Gillespie Field and converted it to a public airport.
  • 1952 – County granted ownership of the facility by the federal government. 
  • 1971 – San Diego County Sheriff stationed ASTREA, the law enforcement aviation section, at the airport.
  • 1993 – San Diego Aerospace museum located its restoration operations and a special exhibit at the field. 



Jacumba Airport was acquired from the federal government in 1953. The airport is unattended and unlighted. It is used mainly as an operation area for gliders, especially on weekends.

  • 1957 – County of San Diego picks Carlsbad site to replace Del Mar Airport.
  • 1958 – Construction begins.
  • 1959 – Airport opens March 20, for daytime operations.
  • 1960 – Terminal building constructed
  • 1961 – Airport expanded to a 4700’ runway.
  • 1962 – Terminal expanded, adding airport administrative offices.
  • 1973 – FAA control tower placed into operation March 26.
  • 1977 – Instrument landing system (ILS) and approach lights installed.
  • 1978 – Airport annexed into the City of Carlsbad.
  • 1982- The Airport is named for aviator Gerald McClellan, a Norh County community leader. 
  • 1991 – American Eagle Airlines begins scheduled service from Carlsbad to Los Angeles (LAX) on April 15.
  • 1994 – United Express Airlines begins service to Los Angeles (LAX).
  • 1996 – FAA issues certification and permit to operate aircraft which carry in excess of 30 passengers.
  • 1997 – America Eagle Airlines ends scheduled service to LAX.
  • 1999 – America West Express begins service to Phoenix April 4.
  • 1999 – New 3,600 sq. ft. temporary terminal installed in 24 hrs., April 7-8.
  • 2006 – North side ramp opens in August.
  • 2007 – Ground broken for new terminal building to combine airline terminal/security screening with restaurant, Customs facility and other amenities.
  • 2008 - America West Express ends schedule service to Phoenix Feb 13.
  • 2009 – Grand Opening of a new 18,000 sq. ft state-of-the-art terminal on January 29th.
  • 2015 - United Express ends schedule service to Los Angeles (LAX) on April 6.
  • 1956 – Ocotillo Wells Airport was acquired from the federal government.
  • 1943 – Airport built by U.S. Navy as an emergency landing field.
  • 1945 – 4,000’ runway built by U.S. Navy.
  • 1956 – Airfield conveyed to County of San Diego.
  • 1957 – CDF opened Ramona Air Attack Base 
  • 1960 – U.S. Forest Service set up and began operations.
  • 1966 – CDF and U.S. Forest Service integrated and Ramona Air Attack Base became a jointly operated base.
  • 1966 – Parallel taxiway built .
  • 1979 – Transient aircraft parking apron was constructed.
  • 1995 – First on-site manager assigned to Ramona.
  • 2002 – Runway extension project completed.  Extended runway and parallel taxiway to 5,000', expanded run-up area at north east corner and improved taxiway at southeast corner of airport.
  • 2003 – Sewer line installed at airport
  • 2003 – Air Traffic Control Tower project completed.  
  • 2004 – Tower began operation in January.


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