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An Oregon Gem - Volunteers Protect Pacific City State Airport

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The RAF recently learned the history of an Oregon gem, Pacific City State Airport (KPFC), thanks to David Inman, vice president of Friends of Pacific City State Airport. Nestled in the middle of a small Oregon coastal town, the airport lies near rivers, a beautiful beach, and a picturesque cape.  Fishing dories launch directly into the surf.  Horses traverse the miles of sandy beach, much of which is within Bob Straub State Park. The town is a mix of small-town homes and businesses.  Family-friendly inns and five-star accommodations are within an easy walk from the airport.

Of vital interest is that for years, the State of Oregon’s Aviation Board and Oregon Department of Aviation (ODA) considered selling or closing the airport.  While the State claims a sale of the airport would retain public access, the Friends fear this could change. The Friends’ goal is to encourage the State to join together with the many supporters to make a better state-run airport, similar to the RAF’s success under the leadership of Oregon Liaison Richard Mayes at McKenzie River Bridge state airport.

On September 22nd, The Friends, supported by the RAF, organized a work party of 50 pilots, families and community volunteers — some from hundreds of miles away — to demonstrate their support for the airport.“The airport is important economically to the community, is frequently used by emergency services and recreating pilots, so our group has a mix of members,” David said. Lack of State advocacy led to neglect —trees and brush were encroaching on the Runway Safety Area, “and so began an effort to team-build with the ODA by forming a volunteer work party,” David added.

“The airport itself has its challenges,” David explained.  It’s 1,875 feet long, and 300 feet shorter landing from north to south. The pavement is good, but just 30 feet wide.  A road passes the north end of the runway and an estuary lies to the south.  The ramp has parking for about five aircraft “and these spots go rapidly on a sunny weekend.  If it has been dry for a while, parking in the grass is possible,” David said. 

“It’s the Friend’s goal that Pacific City State Airport becomes a well-supported state airport and that a healthy relationship is made with the State Aviation Board and the Oregon Department of Aviation,” David said. To that end, this first work party was highly cooperative and successful. Volunteers brought tractors with brush hogs and buckets, a front end loader, chipper, dump truck, track-hoe, and many chainsaws. The ODA surveyed the property lines, provided another large chipper, a dump truck, tractor, a supervisor and crew of three.  The community supplied discounted lodging, a staging area, snacks, lunch, a doctor, first aid, safety crew, and expert loggers.  In all, the volunteers and ODA crew removed ten dump truck loads of chipped debris and one of garbage. Both south and north approaches were improved.

“This was a beautiful day with much accomplished,” David said.  “With the help of those writing letters to the Board, donating, and volunteering support for the airport, the goal is nearer.”

Photos by Leonard Rydell, P.E., P.L.S, W.R.E

Photo 1: Volunteers removing encroaching willows
Photo 2: Nanci Sheeran cooking for the hungry crews