Keep Dillingham airfield open for public use
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DOTA Plans to close Dillingham Airfield
The Department of Transportation, The Airports Division is planning on closing Dillingham Airfield on July 1, 2020. Attached is my second letter recently sent to Senator Gil Riviere and Representative Sean Quinlan who thankfully understand what the Airfield means to hundreds of North Shore residents.
Aloha Senator Riviere and Representative Quinlan
Thank you for your interest in Dillingham Airfield (HDH). I want to list a few bullet points on items I did not mention about HDH that I did not include in the previous communication.
Thousands of visitors and residents annually enjoy the trail that is based on Dillingham Airfield property. There is a parking lot and two bathrooms and it is a wonderful hike for residents and visitors alike. Dogs are also welcome on this trail. Since it is well inside the west gate, closing Dillingham Airfield will likely mean closing this trail that has been available for many decades.
Bathrooms at west end of Dillingham Airfield
These bathrooms are used by police and state road workers frequently. They are the ONLY bathrooms other than those at Aweoweo Beach park in “cement city”, from Haleiwa west, except for a portable toilet at the Beach Park across from Dillingham Airfield since the bathrooms were demolished and not re-built a decade ago. Beach goers and even the homeless rely on the bathrooms on the Mauka side by the tower and the bathrooms at the Glider Port side. Taking bathrooms away from even the homeless will just make our beaches filthier and more work for the State of Hawaii and local neighbors.
Many residents west of Haleiwa use the huge airport property for walking. They use the quiet inside road for walking, teaching their young children how to drive etc. It is a peaceful option for these residents so that they don’t have to walk on the dangerous Farrington Highway.
Options for tenants at HDH
There is no option on Oahu for all of the Glider businesses to re-locate. This will affect, pilots, aircraft mechanics, their office staff, reservations and personnel at the airport that deal with the customers and their entire families.
There is no option on Oahu for the two busiest skydiving centers in the World to re-locate to on Oahu. None of the other airports airspace permit skydiving, not even Kalealoa. This will affect perhaps hundreds of people between the two companies. Pilots, aircraft mechanics, parachute riggers, office staff, reservation staff, drivers, video editors that produce the customers video and still products that the professional skydiving videographers capture. Outside companies like Uber drivers, limo drivers etc commonly make money bringing out customers to HDH since there is no public transportation. There is an entire pipeline of people that benefit such as travel agents, hotel concierges, all of the companies that they advertise with etc. This is just a partial list.
There are three flight schools based at Dillingham Airfield. The company that uses a Cessna 182 is in business because they are the only option for flight lessons in that type of aircraft on the North Shore. Moving to Kalealoa is currently not an option- no hangars available and not a reasonable business decision because there are much larger, established flight schools located there already. In addition the owners to this business live within 1000 yards from Dillingham Airfield at the Mokuleia Beach Colony.
That brings up another very important detail. Most of us cannot change jobs. We have spent decades becoming the best in the world at what we do. We can only move OFF of Oahu and all of the properties we rent and own will be vacant July 1, 2020.
There are 4 Light Sport Aircraft operated at Dillingham Airfield. The trade winds tumble over the mountain near the water park making Kalealoa a very turbulent location and not a great option for a “light aircraft”. In addition there are NO hangars available. All of these Light Sport Aircraft have fabric sails and it is unacceptable to be stored outside of a hangar. It is a safety issue.
Other Aviators at HDH
There are two gyro-copters in hangars at HDH. There are no hangars available at Kalealoa which again is the ONLY option on the entire island. In addition the owners live on and love the North Shore.
The huge Fightertown hangar has two aircraft in it and a hangar full of equipment. Nowhere to go. The lease holder operates the fuel business at Dillingham buying thousands of gallons of Jet A fuel annually. He employs two people. This business will close as will the fuel sold to general aviation aircraft owned by one of the glider companies. It is common for aircraft not based at Dillingham to land and get fuel from either of these two companies. This includes helicopter tour companies and helicopters doing work in the mountains above Dillingham and the fuel is available and suitable for search and rescue units of the Police and Fire Department if needed which often land at Dillingham while doing real search and rescues on the North Shore. Even the Fire trucks are commonly based out of Dillingham Airfield during these activities. The Fire Department uses Dillingham for driver training. I see it frequently.
There are currently two private pilots that have their aircraft in hangars at HDH. Nowhere to go and one of these pilots lives 1000 yards from HDH.
There are a number of aircraft that pay for a “tie-down” space at HDH.
The powered aircraft that tow the un-powered gliders will have no work and nowhere to go.
Then there is the other side of the runway - there are MANY gliders in hangars on the Makai side of the runway. They actually need special wide hangars due to the wing-span. Nowhere to go.
The two multi-million dollar turbine aircraft based at HDH that belong to Pacific Skydiving will have no work but may be able to sit on the ramp at Kalealoa or HNL.
The multi-million dollar helicopter Pacific Skydiving owns and the two multi-million dollar aircraft Skydive Hawaii own will have no work.
There is a HNL based flight school that daily lands at HDH. They will not be able to do this.
Frequently pilots from other airports fly to HDH for practice or enjoyment.
Others that work at HDH that will be jobless
TV shows, commercials and feature film production.
The State of Hawaii, DOTA has benefited greatly from film productions based at the airfield. I have shot two skydiving scenes for Hawaii Five-0 and many TV commercials. The TV show LOST paid to store aircraft parts at mid-field for all seven years it was filming in addition to filming scenes on the airport just to name a few of the film productions that were based at HDH.. If Dillingham closes my other profession as a high end skydiving cameraman will also be finished. The closing of Dillingham Airfield will mean my two ways to support myself are gone and all of the film production projects that are suited for Dillingham Airfield will be lost. That is a lot of jobs lost because film production involves a huge crew generally and worldwide exposure for Hawaii lost.
I believe the last Airport Manager at Dillingham Airfield (John Blaylock - who was doing an excellent job during his short time on the job, until he got replaced) secured a 5 Year Lease with the ARMY. I believe 3-4 years are still left on this lease. Yes, it is not a 25 year lease like the State of Hawaii, DOTA says they want, but it is a lease and years of opportunity for the DOTA to earn a 25 year lease if they start to put in the effort that Dillingham Airfield and all of the families that will be affected and all of the nearby residents and visitors to Oahu deserve.
It seems that we are not potentially losing Dillingham Airfield because of a Military decision. If that were the case it would be sad but understandable. It seems like we are losing it, while having a lease because the State of Hawaii, Department of Transportation, Airports Division is unable or unwilling to manage it as required by the ARMY.
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