11:02 PM

What is Going
on at VNY?

My inbox exploded Wednesday night with news suggesting that Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) are forcing rent increases at Van Nuys Airport that only corporate jet operators will be able to afford. And one of the tenants that may be shown the door is one we all know and love:

The historic WWII North American Aviation B-25J Mitchell Bomber "Heavenly Body" faces eviction from the Van Nuys Airport (VNY) in Van Nuys, California as well as the smaller propeller-driven, general aviation aircraft based at VNY, which LAWA controls. "Heavenly Body" has been at VNY since 1972. During the last 35 years, "Heavenly Body" has not only developed into a recognized historical icon at the various air shows and events it travels to throughout the year, but has also evolved as a classroom to connect present generations to our common history of this country's past. It is of value to the community, and VNY is its home.
The pull quote above comes from an online petition that is being circulated called the 'Saving Resident Propeller Airplanes and the B-25J WWII Bomber Heavenly Body of the Van Nuys Airport, CA' Petition, created and written by Douglas Aiken of b25.net.

I have some inquiries out to find out more about this "eviction", and precisely what airplanes are being forced out. LAWA has scheduled a "Public Scoping Meeting Regarding Proposed Phaseout of Noisier Aircraft" to discuss their Focused Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that the airport is preparing for the proposed noisier aircraft phaseout ordinance at VNY. That meeting is set for Thursday, November 15, between 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at the Airtel Plaza Hotel, 7277 Valjean Avenue, Van Nuys, California 91406 in the Gulfstream Ballroom.

The red bolded words above really scream out to me. If LAWA is trying to curb "noisier" aircraft, why not send all the bizjets off the field? I'd love to see decibel readings showing a B-25 is louder then just about any bizjet. And if this petition is correct that we need to save resident propeller airplanes at VNY, does that mean every Skyhawk and Cherokee is gone too?
I just recently picked up my new (to me) Cherokee 235 at Van Nuys in early October. The previous owner's A & P, Lance Yomtob, preformed my annual inspection not only in the same hangar as Heavenly Body, but literally under the B-25's nose! I am not kidding...we stood there watching Lance, looking directly up at the bullets in the nose gunner's turret an arm's length above our heads.
Back in the early 90's, I was in Fresno when KMJ radio personality Ray Appleton and a bunch of his buddies organized a flight of several B-25s around California. They simulated a close proximity takeoff similar to what might have happened on the USS Hornet back when General Doolittle flew the bomber. It was great to honor such a beloved aircraft, and it will be sad if Heavenly Body is chased off VNY.

And it's not like VNY is just some boring little patch at the edge of town either. Here is some info from a LAWA release:
The world's busiest general aviation airport, VNY serves as a valued San Fernando Valley resource, providing ongoing leadership in general aviation, business and community service. Dedicated to noncommercial air travel, VNY averages more than 400,000 takeoffs and landings annually. More than 100 businesses are located on the 730-acre airport, including six major fixed-base operators and numerous aviation service companies. Annually, the airport contributes approximately $1.3 billion to the Southern California economy and supports over 12,000 jobs.
Folks, this is the BUSIEST GA AIRPORT IN THE WORLD! If anyone – ANYONE – wants to kick prop-driven airplanes off VNY, I think they are seriously underestimating the power of AOPA and the GA community. That concept is so far out there, I must be missing some big part of this story. Not sure what just yet, but I'm going to keep digging.

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