‘Come Fly With Us’ at exhibit of SGV’s last operating airport
Library exhibit also celebrates 30th year of CSULA’s Aviation Administration Program
An aerial view of El Monte Airport (photo courtesy: Los Angeles County Public Works Department)
In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the University’s Aviation Administration Program, Cal State L.A. will present an exhibition this fall, entitled “Come Fly With Us: Aviation in the San Gabriel Valley,” at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library on campus.
Co-curated by the University Library and the student chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), the exhibit will highlight the El Monte Airport (EMT), which is one of the last operating airports in the San Gabriel Valley.
According to a 2012 Los Angeles Times article, “Although it is within El Monte’s city limits, the airport is owned by Los Angeles County. Built in 1936 and renovated several times, [it is] funded by federal and state grants and pilots who pay hangar rental fees and purchase fuel. The three flight schools on the grounds also pay rent.”
The library exhibit—to open on Thursday, Sept. 19—will feature a collection of photographs, books, reports, artifacts, and maps that will show a timeline of EMT, from its opening to the present, as well as the economic impact the airport has on San Gabriel Valley communities. A flight simulator will also be available for visitors during scheduled times throughout the fall, winter and spring quarters.
“It is important to preserve small aviation outposts, such as the one in El Monte,” said Keith Mew, the faculty adviser for the University’s Aviation Administration Program, “because of the important role general aviation airports continue to play in the training of future airline pilots, their impact on the local economy and as a base for a host of other activities, including search and rescue, disaster relief, aerial firefighting, law enforcement, and commercial and industrial activity.”
Both Professor Mew and University Librarian Alice Kawakami, who is a former private pilot, conceptualized the idea for the exhibit with assistance from a group of CSULA’s Aviation Administration Program students. They include alums Brenda L. Perez and Sean Moran, seniors John Chang (pictured top of sidebar) and Israel E. Curiel, and Kevin Crisanto, president of the AAAE student chapter.
Kawakami’s interest in organizing an exhibit on campus came from reading an L.A. Times’ news story about the El Monte Airport.
She said, “I took my flight training at the El Monte Airport when I was a student at Cal State L.A. and thought that the connection with the EMT, the San Gabriel Valley community, and the campus would make an excellent collaborative exhibit. It is not only informative but raises the visibility of the Aviation Administration Program and its students.”
Many CSULA students have also used the El Monte Airport for pilot training.
“We have had alumni from our program move on to work at El Monte one time or another,” said Perez. “Intissar Durham, chief airports engineer of Los Angeles World Airports, Warren Valdry, retired VP of the Los Angeles World Airports, and many others have graduated from CSULA.”
“Also, we appreciate the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, Aviation Division, and Chris Books, the El Monte Airport manager, for loaning the items for our exhibit,” she added.
The LA/Ontario International Airport Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) Station has also contributed to the exhibit by providing a fire proximity suit, firefighter boots, helmet, and firefighter gloves, which offer protection against extreme temperature, such as aircraft fires. The showcase will include the ARFF mission statement as well as pictures of some of the jobs they do.
Additionally, there will be a display regarding the non-traditional and highly-skilled careers that exist in aviation and information about the bachelor’s degree in Aviation Administration Program at CSULA. The program provides a hands-on learning environment with industry-driven curriculum and state-of-the-art classrooms, software and laboratories that will help prepare students for an aviation management career.
In 2011, the Aviation Administration Program at CSULA garnered second-place honor at the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) 7th Annual Western-Pacific Region Airports Conference in Anaheim, CA. Cal State L.A. was one of only three major organizations nominated for the Herman C. Bliss Airports Partnership Award, one of the FAA Western-Pacific Region’s most prestigious awards.
During the certificate presentation, the FAA credited CSULA’s program for preparing individuals to become some of today’s finest aviation professionals. The presenter noted that “many CSULA graduates have gone on to become airport managers, Department of Homeland Security Agents as well as Federal Aviation Administration employees.”
Richard L. Smith, chief of the aviation division in the Los Angeles County Public Works Department, will be the guest speaker at the Sept. 19 opening reception, which will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. on the first floor exhibit area of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library.
“The reception will certainly be a good opportunity for current and prospective students to network with alumni from our program,” said Chang, who currently works at the LA/Ontario International Airport while pursuing his bachelor’s degree at CSULA.
El Monte Airport’s Annual Open House and Air Fair Day, which will feature biplanes and aircrafts from all over Southern California, takes place Sunday, Sept. 22, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The airport is located at 4233 North Santa Anita Avenue in the city of El Monte. The 103-acre general aviation airport is home to a state-of-the-art FAA air traffic control tower, three fixed-based operator flight schools, aircraft maintenance facilities, flying clubs and several local law enforcement helicopter operations. For info, call (626) 448-6129.
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