BRAWLEY – Giving kids rides in vintage airplanes, lots of food and entertainment ensured the success of Brawley Municipal Airport Advisory Commission’s first open house held at the airport Saturday.
Kids ranging from the young to 17 years old excitedly waited in line for rides in vintage planes.
The rides were provided by the Young Eagles Program, an undertaking by the Experimental Aviation Association. They draw in pilots and their aircraft from Southern California. Local pilots, Joel Shank and Wally Hale, were among the volunteer pilots.
The So-Lo 99’s, a group of female aviators, provided aircraft for the static display, along with Reach and the Imperial County Sheriff’s Aero Squadron. Erasmo Gonzalez of Smith Kandal assisted with food preparation. Larry Rose of Imperial Flying Services, the fixed base operator, supplied the aircraft with fuel to provide flight opportunities for school age children. Approximately 55-60 students were extended the opportunity to see our community from the sky and experience the wonder of flight.
The open house, which highlighted several recently completed improvement projects at the airport, was the concept of Brawley Municipal Airport Advisory Commission Chairman Tim Kelley.
Brawley City Councilman Donnie Wharton, who hails from a family of pilots himself, is also on the Brawley Municipal Airport Advisory Commission and is employed by REACH Air Medical Services.
“The improvements made to date to the already excellent community airport makes it an even better facility,” said Wharton. “We have some of the best flying weather in the country here in the Valley and some (people) are just now discovering our oasis.”
Those projects included airport pavement slurry and seal, and taxiway and hangar area pavement rehabilitation. The cost was just under $4 million with the majority of funding coming from federal FAA grants and some from state CALTRANS.
Local pilot and member of the Imperial County Sheriff’s Aero-Squadron, Steve Reeves, said he is impressed with the Brawley Municipal Airport. He stores his plane in one of the hangers.
“This is a great little community airport,” said Reeves. “These improvements make it that much nicer.”
Future projects include more pavement rehabilitation, safety improvements and airfield lighting to total about $5 million.
An executive hanger is also planned and may be an incentive for future companies that come to the Imperial Valley.
Some of the other sponsors of the event included Imperial Flying Services, Association of California Airports, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, City of Brawley, Imperial County Sheriff’s Aero-Squadron, Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation, REACH Air Medical Services, and the Brawley Chamber of Commerce.