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Sonoma Valley Airport to Close: Zoning Violations Blamed

Posted by [email protected] on March 19, 2016 at 8:35 PM

President of Vintage Aircraft Company and owner of Sonoma Valley Airport Poses as Volunteer

CHRIS PREVOST Sonoma, CA Chris is president of Vintage Aircraft Company and owner of Sonoma Valley Airport. He has been licensed for 30 years with a commercial pilot certificate, instrument rated, and has more than 12,000 hours of flight time and is a licensed Airframe & Powerplant mechanic. 

In 1981 he began offering scenic and aerobatic rides in historic military training aircraft (Boeing Stearman PT-17 Kaydets and North American Texan SNJ-4).

CHRIS PREVOST: "Since I volunteer at the airport every weekend, I happened to be present for the telling of this 'fish tale'."

He left that part out of the press release. It was mind boggling. Chris is president of Vintage Aircraft Company and owner of Sonoma Valley Airport, where as such he "generously donates" his precious time as a "Volunteer" there.


"The basic problem is public safety," said Prevost.

CHRIS PREVOST Sonoma, CA Now he's struggling to stay. Safety issues could force state aviation authorities to shut him down and in the spirit of taking full responsibility like a man, he says his neighbor is to blame.

Sonoma Valley Airport allowed to continue operations despite proven unsafe conditions

Are you beginning to see a pattern here? Pilots Continue to fly in and out of the Sonoma Valley Airport despite the acknowledged inherent danger to the public on both sides of the fence.


The fence slices through an area that should be kept clear to give planes extra space in an emergency.

Centerline Lights: No No

Touchdown Lights: No No

Obstruction: 90 ft tree, 1415.0 ft from runway, 60 ft right of centerline, 13:1 slope to clear , 20:1 slope to clear

The Department of Transportation sent the airport a letter giving notice that the fence is a violation of the California Public Utilities code.

Sonoma Valley Airport PILOTS! ALERT!

Freshwater trout pond near southwest corner of the airport nearby threshold of Runway 35 is a bird and wildlife attractant and can affect approach and departure from both runways 17-35 and 07-25.

Pilots should ensure runways are clear of birds before takeoff and landing.

Don Smith sits on the county Airport Land Use Commission, advises the Board Of Supervisors. His concern is that the additional pond will bring more birds and increase the chance of an accident.

That's what happened to pilot Greg Baer. Just as he was about to liftoff in February, a large goose smacked his plane. "It made a huge, huge thud, there's no mistaking that I hit something. It definitely opened my eyes to how bad it could be," said Baer.

"This is what scares me. Is it going to take somebody gets killed before we react to this?" said Smith.

TOM MORRIS Vallejo, CA  Now a pilot for 37 years, Tom has a commercial pilot certificate and more than 2,000 hours of flight time, most in antique airplanes. "Hanging out at the airport," which he admits he lives for, has given Tom opportunities to fly more than 60 makes and models of aircraft.

Tom's "day job" as a Principal Engineer for Bay Area Rapid Transit District keeps his engineering skills honed for his other passion -- restoring antique aircraft. Tom has been flying for Vintage Aircraft Company for many years and delights in joy every time a big Vintage Aircraft radial engine starts to rumble.

Their Address is 23982 Arnold Drive Sonoma, CA 95476 Phone: 707-938-2444

General Information: [email protected]

There's a possibility that they will say you can't fly from here anymore and that screws up your whole retirement setup... and life just falls apart," said Copp.

Photography: Sheryl Carlucci, Roger Cain, Selbourne Brown, Mike Shreeve, Denis Arbeau

FLYING EXPERIENCES SINCE 1975, But the clock is ticking for the airport. The Department of Transportation will review their operating permit before the end of the year. By then, the Department of Transportation could shut them down.

Saturdays and Sunday, walk-in, no appointment needed or taken Monday, Thursday and Friday by appointment (flights are always weather permitting) Closed Tuesday & Wednesday


What Their Customers Say

"log fence across the runway safety zone."

Lillie C. o Sonoma, CA My experience with the Vintage Aircraft Company was really bad. Right from the customer service staff to the pilots, all were thoroughly unprofessional. Once we paid for the flight, there was hardly anyone to guide us through. We were ushered into the craft, and the pilot was anything but courteous. The whole excitement of having an aerial view of the Sonoma Valley just frizzled away. I felt unsafe.



TJ S. o Port Huron, MI 16 reviews • According to their website, the Vintage Aircraft Company offers their space for private events. I've contacted them twice for pricing information, once over the phone and once in person and months later have yet to receive anything.

Scott R. o Santa Cruz, CA o 26 friends o 55 reviews • My fiance took me here as part of a surprise trip to Sonoma. This place is really laid back. There's a pilot hanging out waiting for clients, it's all very low key. For the $400+ that my fiance was spending on this very exciting trip, the staff and pilot were fairly non-interested.

In fact, as we were first loading into the plane, the pilot barely acknowledged us as he got in.

2) the flight didn't actually even take us out to the ocean. We were flown within a couple miles of the coast, then the pilot turned around and headed back to Sonoma. Based on the description of the flight, I thought we would actually get out *over* the ocean, fly out to Point Reyes itself, and maybe fly down somewhat low over point Reyes and the coast. Not at all. In actuality, we never got lower than several hundred feet and as I mentioned, were still a couple miles from the coast.

Advice #1) It's an expensive 40 minutes, no doubt.

Advice #2) If 40-minutes is barely enough time to get just short of the coast straight West (Pt. Reyes) and back (plus a few minutes of wine country), I find it very hard to see how they could "fly along the coast down to the San Francisco skyline and back".

jeanne b. o San Francisco, CA These people have poor attitudes in that they are unfriendly and don't like to answer educational questions about the planes. The biggest concern was the comfort of the owner. Also the woman working spent a lot of time barking at visitors and kids. Ride is short and pricey. And it seems they just want your money to keep the boss and his hobby happy. Take a hot air balloon ride instead!!

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