Non-Pilots Campaign To Save Airport


The non-pilot owners of a remote but locally important private airport in northern California have launched a national fundraising campaign to raise the $60,000 needed to keep it open. Ocean Ridge Airport has been in the Bower family for more than 30 years and they’ve always patched the holes and painted the markings themselves to facilitate the slow but steady stream of sometimes-essential traffic to the isolated area of Mendocino County. But according to the patient but nevertheless accountable state inspectors who’ve been watching the single runway’s decline over the years, the homemade repairs and non-standard markings are no longer good enough. “We had an inspection by CalTrans (California’s government transportation authority) and they inspected the runway surface and they determined that is it unsafe” because of alligatoring and loose chunks of asphalt, spokeswoman Julie Bower said in a podcast interview. The $60,000 will pay for an asphalt slurry mix and the Bower family is hoping the pilot community, both local and national, and local businesses will contribute to the cause. No members of the family are pilots or own aircraft.

Bower said they have until the end of September to fix the runway and if it doesn’t get done a local community resource will be gone. As the name implies, Ocean Ridge is about 1,000 feet above the notoriously foggy Pacific and when aircraft can’t use the local municipal airport and medevac helicopters are fogged out of the local health center, they turn to her airport. The facility was built to service a fly-in golf resort in the 1970s but that project failed and the family of Bower’s husband acquired the land. There are about 10 resident aircraft, and itinerant aircraft number about 10 a day in the summer, but so far only about $4,200 has been raised from those who stand to lose the most from the airport’s closure.