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By Susan Wiggins
Mayor Pro Tempore 

Mojave Airport musings

A Page of History

 

In searching my Mother Marion Deaver's files I am always amazed thinking that I am going to run out of topics, but then I come across something new.

Although I began covering the Mojave Airport District after its inception in 1972 and wrote many articles and several columns about it, I found a couple of articles I had not seen before.

The airport district evolved into the East Kern Airport District and today because of tenant's new research and flights to the edge of space is known as the Mojave Spaceport.

The road which led to the formation of the airport district was fraught with obstacles, including approval by Kern County LAFCO, whose members were dubious in the beginning, wondering if the proposed district could raise enough funds along the way to operate the Mojave Airport.

Kern County Supervisors also had to agree to deed the airport over to the new district. And finally, the voters of the proposed formation of the district had to approve the proposal.

All of those "ifs" were surmounted and residents of Kern County now see a thriving airport, whose tenants have ventured into the edge of space and keep coming up with new projects that no one in 1972 could have envisioned. I came across two articles of proposed activities that were considered by some before the airport district was formed.

A Mojave Desert News article from March of 1968 discussed a proposal from California City to purchase the Mojave Airport No. 7 from Kern County. The city wished to have the airport as part of its proposed "California International Airport."

The city wrote a letter to the Kern County Board of Supervisors. The board appointed Supervisor John Holt to negotiate with the city. We now know that such a proposal was never approved by the board of supervisors, and an international airport did not come to fruition.

Another article from the Oildale News from April 1971 suggested that Earl Roper of RKR Enterprises proposed a "Playport Club" at the airport. (That article was given to my Mother by my brother Bill when he worked for Assemblyman William Ketchum. Part of Bill's job was to keep up with happenings in the district by reading area newspapers. I also recognized Bill's handwriting on the clipping.)

The Oildale article said "There is about to be a big change at the controversial Mojave Airport." The article noted that the "unit" would be open to "sportsmen pilots." (Not sure how that was defined.)

The complex would include an auditorium for meetings, displays, and parties. A "Lounge-clubroom" would include a beer bar and snack bar. Working and shop space would be made available also.

Yearly dues were set at $100, and "applications were said to be pouring in from the Los Angeles area."

Roper also told the Oildale paper that plans were in the making for a trailer and camper park and hangar storage for its members.

Roper, "a pioneer in trying to gain stature for the former U.S. Marine facility" was said to be quite enthusiastic over plans for the club. He added that the club would fill a real need for "sportsmen pilots" and would be an ideal manner in which to publicize the many merits of Eastern Kern County.

The article added that the County of Kern was paying $1,400 per month for a promotional representative to attract needed business at the desert location. That representative was Dan Sabovich, who went on to become the first general manager of the newly formed airport district. That district was formed and adopted a $700,000 budget its first year, contracted to create its first master plan, and was off and running, becoming what it is today.

Roper's dream of creating the Playport Club at the airport? I do not believe it ever came to fruition either.

 
 

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