Some of the attendees of the 43rd annual air show at Van Nuys Airport (VNY) near Los Angeles were stunned to learn that the June 11 event was to be the last one. Rockin’ Airfest 2006 drew upwards of 60,000 people who came to see restored military aircraft and vintage machines.
During welcoming remarks, Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cardenas, whose district includes the airport, told the crowd that the event would likely be the last one because the land used for aircraft display was slated for redevelopment.
“That is correct. Based on our assessment, this was the last Airfest,” noted Stacy Geere, airport spokeswoman, who added the announcement was not a surprise to tenants and airport users.
“In February of 2006 the airport master plan was approved and in that was redevelopment of 30 acres of the property,” she said. “It will become hangar and ramp space for propeller driven aircraft. The property has been underutilized since the Air National Guard relocated in 1989. Mostly it has been used for movie filming and some special training by law enforcement when it wasn’t being used for Airfest.”
Part of the property will be turned into a helicopter facility for the Los Angeles Fire Department.
While airport officials are sorry to lose the space that hosted the once-a-year show, the change is good for airport tenants,Geere said.
“There are a couple of FBOs that have redevelopment projects that have been on hold because they had no place to park their aircraft,” she said. “When the airport master plan was approved, the development of the land for parking was approved.”
Geere noted that the next step is for airport officials to put out Requests For Proposals and see what developers offer. The cost of the project can’t be determined until the RFP is answered, she said.
“This doesn’t mean we are closing the airport to the public! We will continue to open the doors of the airport in other ways,” she said. “For example, we have an ongoing airport tour program, as well as our summer education program with an aviation academy that is open to high school students. We also do lots of student career days and lots of speaking engagements.”