Aug. 17, 2017

The Santa Monica Airport Association (SMAA) has significantly increased its public outreach program for 2017, hosting events each month to invite the public onto the Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO). The events are designed to play a key role in reaching out to the wider community surrounding the airport by highlighting the many benefits that the airport provides.

The most recent public event was held Aug. 12, and focused specifically on business aviation, with aircraft made available for public viewing and pilots on hand to answer questions.

Dave Hopkins, vice-president of SMAA, is an SMO-based CFI and CEO of an air transport contracting company that relies on business aircraft. He said that the monthly events hosted by SMAA are a great way to raise awareness about the airport in an effort to build public support for keeping SMO open for future generations.

“A 2011 city of Santa Monica study demonstrated that SMO generated almost 1,500 jobs and $247 million in economic activity in the surrounding community, and much of this activity can be traced to aircraft used for business,” he said. “SMAA wants to make the public feel welcome at the airport.”

Other 2017 events include a day devoted to bringing attention to SMO as a disaster relief lifeline, a “Kids in Planes” day, an EAA Young Eagles event, a look at military aviation, a “helicopters” event and a Christmas-themed event featuring Santa flying into SMO.

SMO has been under increased threats of closure recently by the city of Santa Monica, which made a deal with FAA that allows the city to shorten the runway, aimed specifically to restrict business aviation jet traffic and only requires the city to operate the airport through 2028. Numerous lawsuits regarding the future of SMO are currently pending, including one initiated on Feb. 13 by NBAA and five airport stakeholders. Read more about the latest legal action.

Hopkins sees a parallel between the current threats to the airport and the iconic Santa Monica Pier.

“In the 1980s, Santa Monica’s city council voted to demolish the pier, and local activists revolted. Now the Pier is a local landmark with protected status treasured by local residents and visiotrs,” he said. “SMAA is doing the same for SMO. It starts with educating our community on the value of our airport for connectivity, jobs, emergency response, security and safety.”

Learn more about SMAA.