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By Sue Strom, Advocates of Safe Airport Policies (ASAP)

January 21, 2018 (El Cajon) -- We hope your year is off to a happy and healthy start.  However, for those of us concerned about heavy local traffic, safety, noise, toxic air and lead overhead, with protections for homeowners few and far between, the new year is already daunting.

FAA approval for an increase in air traffic... a state of the art flight training center... the lengthening of the 27L training runway...the redesign and enlargement of the Bradley Street interchange off hwy 67... and the development of 9 five acre parcels of land for aviation usage called the Cajon Air Center are all coming together step by step over the next several years to form the perfect storm.

Increased Air Traffic — the FAA Demand/Capacity Analysis/Safety and Efficiency Study determined that if used efficiently, the 3 Gillespie Field runways are capable of safely handling a large increase in flight operations.

A state of the art Flight Training Center, Velocity Center of Excellence in Aviation LLC, is developing a leasehold at Gillespie Field. Scandinavian Aviation Academy (SAA) International Flight School will be working with the Boeing Pilot Development Program Training Network. They  plan to train 150-200 students. For the full story, please visit the site below:

Embrey Riddle, the country’s premier flight training school, now has a presence at Gillespie Field.  We contacted Bryan Dougherty, the dean of enrollment, who assured us Embrey Riddle will be maintaining storefront on line classrooms but will not be doing any flight training.

27L Runway Extension — according to the airport layout plan narrative runway 27L (the shorter training runway) will be extended 423’. Larger and faster aircraft need longer runways.

Bradley Interchange Enlargement — The County now has the funds needed to redesign and reconstruct the over burdened Bradley Interchange off hwy 67. This will improve traffic flow, which is good, but the 9 five acre parcels of land making up the Cabron Air Center to be opened for development will most likely draw much heavier local traffic than we deal with presently.

Cajon Air Center Airport Expansion —  the 9 five acre parcels of land making up the Cabron Air Center to be opened for aviation type development will be taking place over the next several years. The developers chosen to lease these land parcels will be able to divide and sublease them for more aviation related businesses. The leases have no protections in them for communities already established close to the airport and there is no real opportunity for public input.

The takeaway is what it has been for several years.  Residents must remain informed and diligent in order to protect the quality of their lives and the value of their homes.

On behalf of the ASAP Steering Committee,

Betty Chafetz and Sue Strom

The views in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine.  If you wish to submit an editorial for consideration, contact

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Just what we need

30-35 years ago, it wasn't that loud. I live right on the flight path of planes taking off heading west. Planes engine stalls and you still feel a need to look, maybe it going down this time. Many crashes with a 3 mile radius.of my house Then some one got the worst idea ever by allowing jets to to start taking off. All hours of the night, fly low, house shakes. More airplanes will be taking off, more noise, more cancer causing fumes floating down on the neighborhoods These people don't care about anyone but green paper money...... I guess a well educated person said this,...Residents must remain informed and diligent in order to protect the quality of their lives and the value of their homes..More planes, more noise, more pollution, thank you, value of homes just went down alot, and you took our quality of life from a 10 down to a 6 or 7

Gillespie Field Airport

The airport may indeed have begun operation many years ago, yet the greedy business owners and politicos behind expansion will no doubt get their way. Money talks these days, no matter what harm a business may do to citizens, greed always wins. I think the airport needs to adjust it's ways of and be aware the high population density, not ignore the fact more people live here. I've lived in El Cajon for around 22 years and have witnessed the air pollution ever increasing. The particulate matters are devastating to the human body, yet if one complains about a particular business causing high levels of pollution, no one listens, or seems to care. I agree that more air traffic will generate more (and excessive) noise, pollution, risk of crashes, etc. I wonder who will pay the cost of damages and death after any planes crash into homes? It's very sad when we, the citizens are rebuked by those in power in the name of what they term "for the betterment of all" even if it harms us. Really what I think is that the obvious reason is money.


The airport began operations between 1942 and 1946. Residents who bought homes after that time knew they were going to live next to an airport, what did they expect?
The Cabron Air Center? Cabron is a slur in Espanol. Look it up.

History of Gillespie

It started around 1942 as a Marine Corps air station and in 1946 the County took it over.  For the next 60 years it was used principally by private pilots.  It wasn't until flight training schools opened in the mid 2000s that the bulk of the complaints begain, from what I've seen. Since then there has been an increase in crashes into homes and nearby streets by student pilots and a stunt pilot who crashed and sparked a brush fire. There has been a big increase in noise complaints and issues of some pilots flying too low over homes. 

The main group opposed (ASAP) to this does not want the airport closed, but merely to have the flight schools restricted.  Also some of the dangers of living near an airport were not known back when these homes were built or purchased decades ago, such as lead contamination that can be harmful to children.

Since residents were there decades before a flight school, and many newer homes have also been built since then, public safety should be a consideration along with economic issues.  Some have suggested student pilot training should perhaps be done in an airport in a less populous area, while still allowing eperienced pilots to take off and land as always, and other airport activities such as use by the Sheriff search and rescue helicopters.