Plane News Feed

Airports helps Marines collect for 2015 Toys for Tots

December 2015


December in San Diego means the air is fresh and the Toys for Tots boxes are filled with great care. County Airports hosted donation boxes at four of its airports, helping the Marine Corps’ with its annual toy-drive campaign. This year’s donations far exceeded previous years with 3,500 donated toys and more than $22,000 in cash donations – compared to last year’s 1,045 toys and $5,600 in cash donations.

Boxes were placed at several locations around Fallbrook Airpark, McClellan-Palomar Airport, Gillespie Field and Ramona Airport. Donors brought in new stuffed animals, bicycles, games and even toy aircrafts, all in the effort to brighten the holidays for children in need. U.S. Marines in full dress uniform personally took in new and unwrapped toys at the two special collection events that were held this year; the first was at Fallbrook Airpark on December 5 and the second on December 12 at Ramona Airport.

Ramona Airport holds 2015 open house

November 2015


November brought great weather for the Ramona Airport Open House, hosted by County Airports on Saturday, November 14, 2015. Approximately 1,150 members of the public came out for the free event, nearly double the number that attended the 2014 open house. This year’s event featured a special guest, Mr. Alfonso L. Harris, a Tuskegee Airman; he proved to be a crowd pleaser who was delighted to sign autographs.

There was plenty of fun for all guests, including flight demonstrations, static aircraft and classic car displays, music, giveaways, face painting, a piñata, pancake breakfast, and a Mexican fiesta lunch. Guests were also treated to tours of the FAA control tower, CalFIRE control tower, Classic Rotors Museum, and free planes rides were offered for children. County staff received many compliments from the community for the successful event.

Mercy Air wows third graders at McClellan-Palomar Airport

October 2015


A group of 115 third grade students was treated to a special event at Palomar Airport on October 29, 2015, held by airport staff. The event kicked off with a Mercy Air helicopter landing in front of the Oceanside students from Palmquist Elementary School. Standing in the center of a circle of students, Flight Nurse Kelly Foreman from Mercy Air gave a lesson on using 9-1-1 to call for help. The kids then got to explore, inspect and climb on a static display of airplanes, helicopters and fire trucks. As the students prepared for departure, Mercy Air wowed the crowd again by firing up and taking off.

AirShow San Diego thrills crowds at Gillespie Field 

June 2015

AirShow San Diego

Gravity-defying maneuvers and mock battles again wowed crowds at AirShow San Diego (formerly known as “Wings Over Gillespie”), on June 20-21 at Gillespie Field in El Cajon. The event, titled “The Ultimate Victory,” featured a representative collection of aircraft, antique automobiles, military vehicles and acts to support the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. 

The show’s headliner, a P-38 Lightning “23 Skidoo," captivated fans with demonstration flights, as well as other vintage warbirds. Back by popular demand was John Collver’s SNJ "War Dog" aerobatics, along with military re-enactors, paratroopers and a mock battle with “Pyro.” 

The show included many educational booths. The County of San Diego Airports provided information on airport lighting, unmanned aerial aircraft systems, and displayed a video on events and history of all its eight airports. Other exhibits were hosted by the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. and the USS Midway Museum.

The two-day event over Father’s Day Weekend drew a crowd in excess of 9,000 and was presented by Air Group One, the San Diego wing of the Commemorative Air Force.


Airports Help Make the Season Brighter During Toys for Tots Campaign

December 2014

December 2014

Brand new bicycles, games, dolls, stocking stuffers and more filled Toys for Tots donation boxes at San Diego County airports in December, brightening the holidays for children in need. 

Staffers collected four boxes at Fallbrook Airpark and over two dozen boxes, as well as cash donations, at Ramona Airport during the Marine Corps’ annual toy-drive campaign. McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad and Gillespie Field in El Cajon also gathered goodies for kids.

During special collection events, U.S. Marines in full dress uniform personally took in new and unwrapped toys at Fallbrook Airpark and at Ramona Airport. Adding to the holiday spirit, donors and visitors nibbled on snacks and explored a Beechcraft Mentor T-34 airplane, courtesy of Contract Airport Manager George Watson.

County Airports thank the Palomar Airport Association, Gillespie Field pilots, the Fallbrook Civil Air Patrol Squadron 87, the Friends of Fallbrook Airpark, and most importantly, U.S. Marines from Camp Pendleton, for making their Toys for Tots collection events a great success.

Fallbrook Community Airpark Celebrates 50 Years With Free Flights

October 2014


The 50th anniversary of the Fallbrook Airpark was celebrated October 25, 2014, with a festival featuring free flights, courtesy of the Experimental Aircraft Association's Young Eagles and Eagles programs. More than 100 passengers enjoyed the plane rides, with some getting a turn trying out the controls.

The “Fly Fallbrook!” event marked the first official flight in 1964 at the airpark, one of eight airports run by the County of San Diego.

In addition to free flights around the community, several formation fly-bys throughout the day thrilled the crowd. The Civil Air Patrol’s Cessna 182 Skylane and “Phantom” — a biplane that has won multiple air-racing championships — was on display, along with other aircraft. Vendors offered information about skydiving, taking balloon rides and learning how to fly. The Fallbrook Firefighters Association volunteers provided hamburgers, chips and soda.

‘Sky’s the Limit!’ For Summer Campers at McClellan-Palomar Airport

August 2014


Campers touring McClellan-Palomar Airport had a chance to explore airplanes, engage with firefighters and even meet McClellan family members during the summer event. The kids from Lab Campz, a summer adventure program put on by Encinitas Country Day School, also donned firefighters uniforms and watched a fire engine show off its blaring sirens, flashing lights and water-spraying prowess.

Adding a special touch to the tour was the attendance of Sharon McClellan-Decking, daughter of airport namesake Gerald C. McClellan, who was a North County community leader and aviator.

McClellan-Decking accompanied the young jet-setters, along with two McClellan grandsons and two great-grandsons. McClellan-Decking, who followed her father’s passion for aviation and flew with American Airlines for over 40 years, then posed for photos with the kids and relatives around a plaque memorializing her late father.

Campers ranged from third-graders to seventh-graders and thanked staffers as they ended their tour, part of the camp program’s eight differently themed weeks, titled ’Sky’s the Limit!”

AirShow San Diego Soars Over Gillespie Field

June 2014


Mock battles and gravity-defying maneuvers including tumbles, loops, swoops flicks and rolls captivated crowds at AirShow San Diego (formerly known as “Wings Over Gillespie”), June 7-8, 2014, at Gillespie Field in El Cajon. The event featured a representative collection of aircraft and acts to support the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of “D-Day,” the invasion of Normandy. The show was headlined by the “D-Day Doll,” a C-53 that actually flew three missions in the invasion.

Thousands of spectators strolled the airfield and inspected over 60 historic aircraft, more than a dozen classic autos, the Navy SEALs’ on-ground display, a variety of exhibit booths, military re-enactors in their World War II encampment, a free Kid’s Zone and more. They were also treated to a mock battle with “Pyro,” which concluded the aerial portion of the AirShow on both Saturday and Sunday.

Almost 200 kids attended the free youth Education Day, June 6, which included hands-on experience inspecting display aircraft with a focus on Aviation-related Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (A-STEM).

AirShow San Diego is a once-a-year family event presented by Air Group One, the San Diego Wing of the "Commemorative Air Force" dedicated to preserving WWII aircraft and history. Amusements, rides, education displays, a variety of food and beverages add up to a great summer weekend for all.

Attainment of High-Tech Degree Goal of Aviation Day

March 2014


"If we spark an interest in one or two students, or convince them to stay in school and attain a high-tech college degree, we're happy!" 

That was the sentiment shared by volunteers working with students on Aviation Day at Gillespie Field on March 20, 2014. Area students, including 65 sixth-graders from Discovery Charter Elementary School in Chula Vista, attended the event, which included discussions in aerodynamics, propulsion, aircraft materials, aviation chemistry and aviation careers.

Volunteers from several other organizations also joined to lend their support for Aviation Day. 

Sponsored by Air Group One of the Commemorative Air Force, the event provides East County support during the annual San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering, a week-long countywide event featuring interactive demonstrations, hands-on activities and dynamic speakers to engage kids and families in science and engineering. The festival is held each March.

The Commemorative Air Force’s mission is to “Commemorate, Educate, and Motivate,” turning today’s students into future leaders.

Air Group One provides quarterly, and eventually monthly, A-STEM programs for local youth, especially in underserved communities. Anyone can apply as a member or volunteer at the AG-1 website at

Kids’ Imaginations Take Flight At McClellan-Palomar Airport

December 2013


It was all child’s play as 125 kindergarteners and parents gathered for a tour of McClellan-Palomar Airport on December 18, 2013. Enjoying an early holiday treat, the kids explored various modes of airport transportation. They toured displays and had fun inspecting fire response equipment, a tug, a fuel truck and multiple aircraft, including a helicopter. Airport staffers were available to answer questions regarding community and noise issues.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems - Know before you fly!

Airport Update

Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are inherently different from manned aircraft. Introducing UAS into the nation's airspace is challenging for both the FAA and aviation community, because the U.S. has the busiest, most complex airspace in the world. The FAA is taking an incremental approach to safe UAS integration.


UAS come in a variety of shapes and sizes and serve diverse purposes. Regardless of size, the responsibility to fly safely applies equally to manned and unmanned aircraft operations. The FAA is partnering with several industry associations to promote safe and responsible use of unmanned aircraft. Read more about the Know Before You Fly educational campaign.


Freedom Dogs train at McClellan-Palomar Airport

September 2015


McClellan-Palomar Airport welcomed five specialty service dogs to its facility on August 27 and September 11, as part of an ongoing working relationship with Freedom Dogs, a nonprofit organization. The dogs went through the security screening process at the Carlsbad airport so they can be better prepared to assist Marines and Sailors of the Wounded Warrior Battalion – West on Camp Pendleton.

Freedom Dogs works with active duty members to aid in their recovery and reintegration, working with service dogs to enhance rehabilitation and with the individual’s health care provider to monitor progress. The nonprofit offers two programs for returning warriors: the Partner Program for about nine months, and the Partner for Life Program for the dog’s entire life. This visit to McClellan-Palomar offers an important opportunity for the dogs to receive training on two tasks that can be difficult for service members: navigating airports and flying.

McClellan-Palomar Airport launches day of fun for kids

May 2015


Kids’ imaginations took flight on helicopters, airplanes and other modes of transportation on May 20, 2015, at McClellan-Palomar Airport. First-graders on a field trip from Kelly Elementary School in Carlsbad, along with a group of 10 preschoolers and their parents, had fun inspecting fire-response equipment, a tug, a fuel truck, a City of Carlsbad police car, two helicopters and multiple aircraft, including a vintage bi-plane. Experienced pilots and operators answered questions and assisted the kids, who climbed in and out of the equipment.

An air-ambulance helicopter launched the event by flying in and landing on the tarmac. It closed the adventure by demonstrating a take-off. All attendees received souvenirs, brownies and memories for a lifetime.

National Intercollegiate Flying Association Brings Contest to Gillespie Field

November 2014


Collegiate pilots gathered at Gillespie Field in November to test their aviation skills in various categories such as precision flight, navigation, message dropping and short landings.

The event was part of the National Intercollegiate Flying Association’s Region II Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference. 

Judges evaluated 86 pilots, who could score individual and team points.

Participants and volunteers arrived early in the week from Cypress College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott, Mt. San Antonio College, Orange Coast College, San Diego Christian College, San Jose State University, and the United States Air Force Academy to practice and perfect their skills prior to the competition. 

The event culminated on Saturday, November 15, 2015, with a dinner banquet and ceremony. Capt. Denny Breslin of the San Diego Christian College flight team was instrumental in bringing the prestigious event to Gillespie Field. The college’s flight team placed second in school overall rankings. 

Skies Clear For Annual Ramona Airport Open House

September 2014


Aviation enthusiasts got close-up views of World War II fighter airplanes, experimental aircraft, firefighting air tankers and more at the annual Ramona Airport Open House, held September 20, 2014. Skies were clear as visitors checked out everything from CAL FIRE tankers (and their spotter plane), the Forest Service's fire-fighting helicopter, the Sheriff's helicopter, Mercy Air, Yaks, Sonics, a Citabria, a Velocity, and a TBM (high performance single-engine turboprop). Guests toured the airport’s control tower, the Classic Rotors Helicopter Museum and strolled among classic cars and tricked out big-rig trucks.

Music, karaoke, face-painting, a pancake breakfast and Mexican-food lunch, a piñata and a guest appearance from Smokey Bear for children also entertained attendees.

Families have gathered at the Ramona Open House for years. The airport is one of San Diego County’s eight airports and CAL FIRE’s oldest air attack base.

Gillespie Field In the Spotlight As Teen Pilot Breaks Around-the-World Record

July 2014


After flying for a month and a half and covering 29,000 miles, 19-year-old MIT student Matt Guthmiller touched down at Gillespie Field on July 14, 2014, breaking a world record for the youngest person to fly solo around the world.

His historic journey included 23 stops in 15 different countries across five continents. Flying a 1981 single-engine Beechcraft A36 Bonanza updated with the latest technological equipment, his final fight took him from Honolulu to El Cajon on a 16-hour tour over the Pacific Ocean.

“It’s great to be back, thank you all so much for being here,” said an exhausted Guthmiller, who took off from Gillespie on May 31. 

About 80 people waited at Gillespie Field High Performance Aircraft hangar to welcome him home, including his mother who had flown in from North Dakota. Mike Borden, president of High Performance Aircraft, provided pizza and cake for the celebration. Various news outlets, including national outlets, covered Guthmiller’s return. 

Among the welcoming party were two United Parcel Service pilots who had heard Guthmiller make a radio call on his position in the middle of the Pacific. The pilots chatted with him for a while before realizing he was in the single-engine Bonanza flying nonstop from Hawaii to San Diego. 

Upon landing, Guthmiller broke the Guinness World Record for the youngest person to circumnavigate the world by aircraft solo. The person who formally held the record was a 21-year-old who finished his 24,000-mile trip in Fresno, California in 2013.

Pilots Wow Crowd with High-Flying at Borrego Airport Event

April 2014


Aviation enthusiasts came from miles around to capture a few minutes of spectacular aerial ballet at the Borrego Valley Hammerhead Roundup, held in April. 

Thrilled spectators watched “built-for-purpose” aircraft climb and dive, bank, turn and roll, and carthweel through the air. Demonstrating skill and precision, pilots maneuvered in a volume of airspace called an “aerobatic box” 3,300 feet wide and 3,500 feet high. Ground markers at each corner of the box made it visible to the pilot from the air. (Borrego’s is the only permanently marked aerobatic competition box at a public airport in California.)

This year’s Roundup again attracted pilots from all over the U.S. to the desert airport, located in the beautiful Anza Borrego Valley.

The crowd enjoyed hot dogs courtesy of the American Legion, with all proceeds benefitting the local high school. The airport’s on-site restaurant, Assaggio Ristorante Italiano, offered food and drink at a discounted rate as a band entertained from the deck. Attendees also had a chance to chat with the pilots and explore the aircraft.

Aerobatic events at Borrego Valley Airport are free to the public. Two events per year are held there: the Roundup and Borrego Akrofest in the fall. For information and dates, visit the event host, San Diego Hammerheads: IAC Chapter 36, at

New LED System Takes Off at Borrego Valley Airport

January 2014


Aircraft descending into the Anza Borrego Valley are now guided in by a high-tech, new LED lighting system at Borrego Valley Airport. More than 300 “ultra-energy” glowing white lights connected by 28,000 feet of lightning-proof wiring illuminate the 5,000-foot runway. Blue lights marking the taxi-ways and red lights serving as guidance to the helicopter parking and tie-down areas further brighten the field, as does directional signage. 

The new system resembles that of high-quality technology found at a modern international airport. Activated by radio microphone, the lighting system takes three, five and seven clicks of the radio mike to light up the pavement. 

The average LED life has approximately 56,000 hours under high-intensity conditions and more than 150,000 hours under normal conditions, resulting in a significant reduction or even elimination of on-going maintenance costs and periodic re-lamping. Lower and more efficient costs and lighting improve the safety of night-time airfield operations. 

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