Plan Talk By Robert Perry

Sights and sounds make up much of the allure of an airport. During the hours spent at Santa Ynez Airport I have the opportunity to discover the intricate process employed by aircraft builder Stan Peternel, during the construction, for the most part from scratch, of a Van’s RV experimental aircraft. Although the word “experimental” must be used as part of the nomenclature of these aircraft, the exacting and hand built nature of these aircraft often provide a better made and stronger aircraft than those that come off assembly lines.

Further down the field at the end of “J” row pilot and mechanic Garth Carrier presides over hundreds, if not thousands, of tools, machines, and contraptions. A South Bend industrial lathe of World War II military vintage is still in regular use for precision milling of parts. Mr. Carrier also designed and built in the 1980’s a large heavy duty English Wheel for making compound curves in larger metal panels on cars and aircraft.

A collection of other metal working tools including a pan and box bending brake, a contained sand blaster, a metal sheer, drill presses, and bending and forming machines fill the large hanger making a tight fit for the hanger’s main resident, a Cessna 170. One of the more mundane yet interesting tools was a shot pad bag. Initially the bag looked like a padded bar stool, but upon inspection it is a heavy leather covering to nearly 100 lbs of lead shot! A metal panel is laid on the pad and formed with a mallet for the correct shape.

One of the most distinctive sounds around an airport is the sound made by older radial engine aircraft. The grinding of a starter or the “pop” of an explosive starter, the first several blades with no ignition, then the “pop, pop” of the individual cylinders starting up with puffs of blue oily smoke. The slow and loping cadence of these 50-60 year old engines belie the power they care capable of making when producing 300 to as much as 2,000 horsepower. The T-6 Texan and T-28 Trojan shown on these pages are both powered by these 9 cylinder engines.

A sign seen on a warbird (as retired but still flying former military aircraft are called) at an air show summed up a basic tenet of restoring, flying, and maintaining these aircraft: “The fastest way to turn money into noise.”

The smell of Jet-A fuel, much like the smell of a diesel engine accompanies the whine of a turbine powered fixed wing aircraft and the helicopters that occupy the ramp at Santa Ynez.

Santa Ynez Airport is located one mile to the west of the intersection of Highway 154 on Highway 246. A small grass park is located adjacent to the airport administration building and is a perfect place to enjoy a sunny afternoon and watch the goings-on at the airport.

Santa Ynez Authority Meeting

Thursday evening April 5th drew a crowd of eight interested parties for the monthly meeting of the Santa Ynez Valley Airport Authority. The meeting was unable to begin at 7:00pm and authority members Carrier, Romero, Foxwell, and Chamberlin engaged in informal discussions of committee reports without making official decisions.

The Authority received a letter of resignation from board member Ron Cline.

Dave Romero gave the treasurer’s report. He indicated that he’s been reviewing report generation, and is considering bringing in an old safe to protect unmade check deposits. There is continuing work being done on the Authority’s budget.

Airport Operations Manager Keegan Bailey reported that sweepers are coming soon to the ramp and hanger areas. Mr. Bailey also reported that although fuel prices are going up Santa Ynez still had the lowest fuel prices in the area attracting pilots from surrounding airports.

Public comments where cut short when Chairman Chamberlin informed Oceano resident David Major, that his proposal from the prior month, for a discussion on the establishment of a parachute jump school at Santa Ynez Airport would not be an agenda item. Chairman Chamberlin explained that Airport Manager Jim Kunkle had discussed the subject with Chairman Chamberlin and decided that decisions on airport operations such as this, would be a management decision. Chairman Chamberlin emphasized that the safety of operations was the utmost concern.

Mr. Majors suggested that the airport apply to the FAA for a safety assessment, which Mr. Chamberlin had little knowledge of.

Authority member Foxwell asked Mr. Major, "Why would you want to operate on a field that you would create a hostile environment between you and the pilots, and the members of the board?"

At 7:26 PM Authority member Tom Peterson showed up and the meeting was officially called to order.

The discussion on Mr. Major’s proposal for a parachute jump operation was summed up by Chairman Chamberlin as follows, "Jim Kunkle, as head of management for the airport team has decided that parachute operations are not safe at the airport."

Continuing items on the agenda were the renewal of the Windhaven Glider lease, which was tabled until next month for further discussion.

Member Dave Romero met with web designer Eric Cobb. Mr. Cobb gave a short presentation to the board on possibilities to change the looks and function of the airport’s web page. The board is considering the purchase of a web cam to allow visitors to the airport’s web page to actually view the fuel price sign and the countryside beyond. This will serve a dual purpose of informing the public of the current fuel price as well as providing an indication of the current weather conditions at the airport.

Continuing discussions took place on the rehabilitation of hanger G-9, the status of the draft letter for land lease applicants, and bids from engineering firms.

A spirited discussion took place regarding individuals who have hangers without a required working aircraft inside. One airport tenant was given 30 days to show that he had purchased an aircraft or is making progress on obtaining an aircraft in order to keep the hanger he as leased for several years.

The board will be taking action on other hanger tenants who use hangers for storage items other than working aircraft.

The Authority board discussed items related to a change in a partnership agreement (tabled until May), aged accounts, and the audit, which was voted on and accepted.

The board was updated on the U.S. Forest Service building plans, the Water District Application, and flight operations for helicopters.

The last item on the board’s agenda was discussion of the conditional use permit process and Chairman Chamberlin’s discussions with the county planning staff on this subject.

Next meeting of the Santa Ynez Airport Authority will be on May 3, 2007 at 7:00 PM in the Airport Administration building.