Southern California Logistics Airport [SCLA]
George Air Force Base (GAFB)
George Air Force Base (GAFB) covers 5,339 acres which includes two runways (9,116 and 10,050 feet), 6.3 million square feet of ramp space and associated facilities; 1,641 units of housing; 14 dormitory buildings with 1,400 bed capacity; a hospital with a dental clinic; and various office and industrial structures. George Air Force Base (AFB) is located in Victorville, California, in the Mojave Desert approximately 90 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
George AFB, originally called the Victorville Army Airfield, was constructed between 1941 and 1943 as a flight training school. After World War II, the base was placed on standby status and used for surplus aircraft storage. The base was reopened in 1950 under the command of the newly created U.S. Air Force and renamed George Air Force Base. Flight training remained the primary mission of this base throughout its history and a number of bomber, glider, single engine, twin engine, and jet fighter aircrafts were flown there. George AFB was a major training facility for the Air Force's F-4 Phantom and was the home of the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing.
In 1988, George AFB was scheduled in the first round of base closures passed by Congress under the Base Realignment and Closure program. The base was officially decommissioned in December 1992. In 1993, President Clinton announced a "Five Part Plan" to speed economic recovery in communities where military bases were to be closed. One part of this plan called for improving public participation in the base's environmental cleanup program. George AFB was among a number of installations where environmental cleanup was placed on a "fast track" so that base property could be quickly transferred to the community for reuse.
The Southern California International Airport (SCIA) opened in October 1994, when the Air Force executed a lease for 2,300 acres. The airport was granted an FAA Part 139 certificate in February 1995 to serve scheduled aircraft carrying over 30 passengers.
The 1996 Defense Appropriations bill included a provision requiring the Army to use SCIA, as the interim airhead for the National Training Center at Fort Irwin until such time as a Barstow-Daggett airport is available to serve as a permanent airhead. Flights began on April 18, 1996. About 60,000 troops a year are passing through SCIA, on commercial 747 aircraft, C-5 cargo planes and helicopters. The Army is the airport's anchor tenant, providing annual fees and rental income of about $5 million. The airport authority hired a fixed base operator and has already installed navigational aids.
The FY2002 military spending bill earmarks $1.3 million to allow the US Army to continue using Southern California Logistics Airport [SCLA] to transport troops en route to training exercises at Fort Irwin. The airport has proven to be by far the most efficient and safest location for travel to and from the Army's National Training Center for the 60,000 troops who rotate through each year. Company D of the 158th Aviation Regiment is a general support aviation company that moved in under a five-year contract the Army signed with SCLA and the city of Victorville. The unit is part of the 244th Aviation Brigade of Fort Sheridan, IL.
The federal government is responsible for helping the Victor Valley recover from the closure of George Air Force Base in 1988. The conversion of the former George Air Force Base to Southern California Logistics Airport [SCLA] will provide major corporations with logistics needs with a global intermodal logistics gateway to the Western United States. Located near Interstate 15 in California's Victor Valley, the 5,000 acre complete intermodal business complex is approximately 50 miles northeast of Los Angeles County and 40 minutes north of Ontario Airport (ONT).
In July 2000 the Department of Commerce awarded the Southern California Logistics Airport at the former George Air Force Base the designation of Foreign Trade Zone, Congressman Jerry Lewis said Friday. The designation will make it much easier for the Victor Valley Economic Development Authority to convince international carriers to use the airport as a base for shipping foreign products to Southern California and beyond
In July 2000 the Department of Transportation approved a $4.9 million grant for the Southern California Logistics Airport to extend its main runway from 10,050 feet to 13,050 feet to accommodate international jet transports. The airport at the former George Air Force Base was included in 2000 on the priority list for federal Military Airport Program grants for the current fiscal year. The airport authority needs to extend the main runway from 10,000 feet to 13,000 feet to ensure that cargo planes can take off fully loaded in summer heat. The longer runway is also needed for the most efficient use of the airport as the main transportation hub for the 70,000 troops a year traveling to and from the Army National Training Center at Fort Irwin.
The Southern California Logistics Airport can easily supply the Los Angeles basin, but it is beyond the region's worst traffic, making it the most convenient shipping location for the entire West. SCLA Authority officials have shown they are ready and able to begin serving these carriers as soon as they have a runway long enough to handle the big jets. The House of Representatives approved legislation placing the airport on the priority funding list for Fiscal Year 2001. The airport is seeking an additional $6 million to extend the runway to 15,000 feet, which would allow an even greater number of flights. The initial cargo operation at SCLA will bring about 200 jobs, but it has the potential to attract businesses that could hire up to 20,000 people, according to airport authority officials.
Beyond the obvious need to improve a closed military base, the runway extension project is a valuable investment of federal funds that will bring significant returns, both for the military and the region. This is the safest and most convenient air hub for the thousands of troops traveling to Fort Irwin and this funding ensures that the runway is adequate for all of those transports. In addition, shipping to this location will cut fuel costs and pollution in the Los Angeles basin - not to mention time and expense for shipping companies. The total cost for the expansion is $5,502,000, with the Federal Aviation Administration agreeing to pick up 90 percent at $4,951,800.
Extension of the runway will open the desert airport to the world by allowing year-round use by the giant 747-400 cargo planes, Michael Schaecher, vice president-Transpacific of SwissGlobalCargo, told the authority in May. The company began service to SCLA in October 1999 with one rotation a week.
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