Airport patriots
by Nikki Chase / For the Tracy Press
Jul 04, 2013 | 3485 views | 0 0 comments | 84 84 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Flying high at open house
Rex  Pemberton of Pemberton Aerosports descends over the runway at Tracy Municipal Airport with the American flag during opening ceremonies of the airport’s Open House and Independence Day Celebration on Saturday, June 29.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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Pilots and aviation enthusiasts celebrated the Tracy Municipal Airport during an open house and early Independence Day celebration on Saturday, June 29.

The Tracy Airport Association, with the help of Skyview Aviation, hosted the event in hopes of raising awareness for the airport at 5749 S. Tracy Blvd.

The event included the national anthem and a skydiver, Rex Pemberton, who leaped from a small plane carrying a 1,000-square-foot American flag.

Pemberton was one of many celebrating how vital the Tracy Municipal Airport is to local aviators and pilots everywhere looking for a destination.

“Skyview Aviation is one of our major sponsors for air shows, and they maintain our aircraft,” he said.

Jeff Jess, from the Patriots Jet Team, co-piloted a jet that circled the skydiver with Richard Ortenheim, owner of Skyview Aviation in Tracy. Jess has been a pilot for 14 years and recalls his first flight to an event at the Tracy airport hosted by Ortenheim.

“I still come in and out of here in my private plane to get fuel and stop in to say hi,” Jess said.

Since moving his aviation business to Tracy, Ortenheim said other Tracy businesses have benefited from an added revenue stream. Ortenheim, who is also a member of Tracy Airport Association, said aircraft customers “occupy on average 200 hotel rooms a year.”

John Favors, president of the Tracy Airport Association, believes that “most people don’t realize Tracy has an aircraft manufacturer.”

Favors said he wasn’t surprised that a large number of residents aren’t aware of the airport, but getting the word out is the association’s top priority.

“We’d like to let people know there is an airport here, and more importantly than just an airport, an opportunity for people to have a career,” he said.

Favors is also excited about strides being made to protect the airport.

According to Favors, relations between airport advocates and land developers were strained for the past 10 years. Now, the airport association is working with developers to market the benefits of having an airport.

“I think Tracy has something special if we develop this airport correctly and put in restaurants and other things to attract people in the community,” Favors said.

Aerobatic pilot Beth Stanton is no stranger to Tracy’s airspace. Stanton, who is part of the International Aerobatic Club in Livermore, was high above the crowd Saturday, performing a routine.

“We come out here and practice about once a month,” Stanton said. “The people of Tracy have been great.”

The airport has been in existence for 84 years and is a prime location for pilots from around the world, because the skies above Tracy are so often clear.

“The weather here at this particular location has 344 days a year on average that you can land an airplane with visual reference,” Favors said.

Favors hopes that with new attractions, such as a remote-controlled racecar track, Tracy residents will see the airport as a benefit, too.

• Contact the Tracy Press at 835-3030 or tpnews@tracypress.com.

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