Redlands Airport is a Civic Treasure

Reprinted from the Editorial Page of the Redlands Community News, 5-19-22

The Redlands Municipal Airport is a civic treasure with a rich an interesting history. As Shari Forbes reports in this week’s Focus package, airplanes were soaring over Southern California less than a decade after Orville and Wilbur Wright first flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903.

The University of Redlands held the first known “air meet” in 1911. That same year, Beryl Williams — who later moved to Redlands —became the youngest aviator in the country.
Forbes reports that celebrities flying to the West Coast often chose to fly into Redlands airport for its privacy and because it was often the only air strip in the region that was not fogged in.

The Federal Aviation Administration now lists Redlands Municipal as one of more than 120 “reliever airports” designated to reduce congestion at large commercial services airports and provide more general aviation access. Reliever represents the R in REI, the FAA’s official designation for Redlands Municipal.

In our case, the larger airport would be San Bernardino International Airport, just a few miles west of Redlands. About a year ago, the FAA issued a warning urging Inland Empire pilots to be vigilant about other aircraft in the vicinity.

Both airports have held air shows in the past until COVID stopped events that draw large crowds. Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, a successful brewery and bar near the Redlands airport, has held a dozen air shows that have become significant community events. SBA held six
shows that display larger airplanes. Last year, Hangar 24 lost some of the property where the air show was held because of the kangaroo rat, so it has agreed to merge with the show in San Bernardino. It was scheduled for May last year but didn’t happen. We have yet to see signs another show this year.

Ted Gablin, president of the Redlands Airport Association, foresees the airport being home to future technology such as Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) vehicles. Entrepreneurs are building these experimental new “air taxis” that were featured on
“60 Minutes” with Anderson Cooper. “Redlands Municipal Airport would be a prime location for a future eVTOL company,” said Gablin. We’d love to see Redlands become a leader in clean transportation of all kinds, such as the San Bernardino Valley College program to develop electronic freight trucks.

Redlands most famous author, James Falllows, who writes for the Atlantic Magazine, advocates for small, private planes as a way to travel safely and reduce traffic congestion. We can’t predict how widespread that might become, but a healthy municipal airport may
make it possible.

James Folmer, Editor

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