[Archive Home][Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
"Celebrity Tournaments Mean Big Business for Coachella Valley, Calif., Airports"
- To: <ganews@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Subject: CAA: GA News, "Celebrity Tournaments Mean Big Business for Coachella Valley, Calif., Airports"
- From: "Stephen Irwin" <stepheni@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 14 Nov 2002 01:51:29 -0800
- Importance: Normal
- Reply-To: <stepheni@xxxxxxxxx>
- Sender: ganews-owner@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Wednesday, November 13, 2002
Celebrity Tournaments Mean Big Business for Coachella Valley, Calif.,
The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif.
Airport manager Mike Smith doesn't need a calendar to know when the
Coachella Valley is hosting another celebrity golf or tennis tournament.
Scores of private planes taxiing on the tarmac at Bermuda Dunes Airport
provide visual proof.
It's the same at Desert Resorts Regional Airport in Thermal, where
corporate jets quickly fill the parking ramp on tournament weekends,
said Eric Affeldt, chief operation officer of Million Air, the
fixed-base operator at both Desert Resorts and Palm Springs
"Thanksgiving will be gigantic, between the Skins Game and the holiday
in general," he said. "Throughout the season, from Thanksgiving to May,
people from cooler climates are coming to our valley because the weather
Business is soaring at the valley's two general aviation airports. Who's
flying in? Private pilots, celebrities and corporate executives, many of
whom have second homes at the valley's country clubs or are year-round
Desert Resorts had about 65,000 takeoffs and landings last year, and it
likely will have more this year with the completion of a longer runway
that can handle Boeing 737s, said Rob Field, aviation division
supervisor for the Riverside County Economic Development Agency. Fuel
sales have tripled in the past five years, Affeldt said.
Since last year's terrorist attacks, Field said, "corporate planes are
getting more popular because airline traffic is more of a hassle because
of security," Field said. "Companies don't want to put executives at
General aviation airports usually don't do electronic screening, Affeldt
said. However, he added, "You don't have strangers getting on your
With the proliferation of resorts and new country clubs in the east end
of the valley, demand is increasing for hangars and parking at Riverside
County-owned Desert Resorts and the privately owned Bermuda Dunes. Both
airports have just finished expansion projects and are planning the next
"As the population continues to move eastward, more high-end residential
communities are being built," Affeldt said. "Some of those buyers have
enough wealth to own private aircraft."
Bermuda Dunes, which had about 40,000 takeoffs and landings last year,
has a waiting list of about 100 Coachella Valley residents and companies
who want hangar space for their aircraft. The airport has space for 48
planes in hangars now.
Fractional ownership also is boosting the popularity of private planes,
Field said. Fractional owners -- individuals and corporations -- buy an
interest in a plane, which is maintained by a management company.
According to Aviation Week, 642 aircraft were fractionally owned at the
end of March this year, up 25 percent from 2001.
The number of shareholders increased from 4,854 to 5,156. The General
Aviation Manufacturers Association reports that participation in
fractional ownership has been growing by 50 percent a year since the
Big-name passengers Celebrity sightings at the two airports are common:
Arnold Palmer, Andre Agassi, Jay Leno, Larry Hagman, Gov. Davis.
The Eagles rock group once gave a private concert at Desert Resorts.
Then President Bill Clinton planned to fly into Bermuda Dunes Airport in
the mid-1990s for a golf tournament.
But an unexpected storm forced a change in plans.
"They gave me a presidential pin anyway," Smith recalled.
The growing popularity of private aircraft and the Coachella Valley have
prompted improvements at the two airports.
Desert Resorts completed $8.5 million in improvements last spring that
included lengthening the runway to 8,500 feet, long enough to handle
Boeing 737s. Next month, the county will seek bids on a $2.8 million
parking expansion for corporate jets. There also are plans to build
hangars for as many as 30 executive jets.
About a dozen corporate planes are based at Bermuda Dunes, some of them
housed in a new, 13,250-square-foot hangar with offices. Four dozen
aircraft occupy hangars; 100 others are on a wait list. The
5,000-foot-long runway can accommodate all but the largest corporate
jets. There are plans to add hangars and parking for 30 more corporate
Also growing is the airpark at Bermuda Dunes, one of the first airports
in California to include houses with hangars attached at the rear.
Twelve of the 19 residential lots have been developed, and another home
is under construction.
"It's like living in heaven," said Bill Page, who parks his
propeller-driven Piper Cub and Beech Baron planes in the hangar at his
house. "It's like a golfer living on a golf course."
Page, a urologist, moved his family to the airport in 1988.
The house sits about the length of a football field from the runway.
"This allowed us to combine a flying hobby with a great place for our
kids to grow up," said his wife, Catherine.
Page said he flies at least once a week, sometimes more often.
"I've had this dream all my life, to have a house at an airport," he
said. "You check the airplane, check the weather and file a flight plan.
You just pop open the door, taxi down and take off."
Post your opinion on this story in the CAA General Aviation Forum
Fair Use Notice
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
If you have any queries regarding this issue, please Email us at email@example.com