Eastern Sierra Regional Airport
|Eastern Sierra Regional Airport
Bishop Army Airfield
USGS aerial photo as of 2006
|Owner||City of Los Angeles
Department of Public Works
|Location||Inyo County, east of Bishop|
|Elevation AMSL||4,124 ft / 1,257 m|
Eastern Sierra Regional Airport (IATA: BIH, ICAO: KBIH, FAA LID: BIH) is two miles east of Bishop, in Inyo County, California. It is owned by the City of Los Angeles, Department of Public Works and operated by Inyo County.
The airport covers 830 acres (340 ha) at an elevation of 4,124 ft (1,257 m). It has three asphalt runways: 7/25 is 5,566 by 100 ft (1,697 by 30 m); 12/30 is 7,498 by 100 ft (2,285 by 30 m); 16/34 is 5,600 by 100 ft (1,707 by 30 m). It has two helipads: H1 is 40 by 40 ft (12 by 12 m) and H2 is 100 by 100 ft (30 by 30 m).
In the year ending October 23, 2006 the airport had 26,000 aircraft operations, average 71 per day: 88% general aviation and 12% military. 64 aircraft were then based at the airport: 81% single-engine, 13% multi-engine, 2% jet and 5% glider.
Historical military use
The airfield opened in April 1940 on 897.22 acres (363.09 ha) subleased from Inyo County. During World War II it was known as Bishop Army Airfield and was a sub-base to Muroc Army Airfield in 1942 and 1943 for Fourth Air Force. The site was used for aircraft flight and ordnance delivery training. In 1943 it was reassigned to Tonopah Army Airfield, Nevada. Aircraft maintenance was also done, and ordnance storage.
After the end of World War II, Bishop AAF was turned over to Air Technical Service Command as a storage airfield. On 2 May 1949, Army cancelled its initial lease of 897.22 acres (363.09 ha) with Inyo County for Bishop Airport under the War Assets Administration's Peacetime Reduction Mission, and the base was declared excess to requirements and returned to civil control.
The U.S. Air Force subleased runway use rights and a heliport area of 4.76 acres (1.93 ha) known as the Bishop Test Site from Inyo County from 15 November 1965 to 19 June 1971 and from 25 November 1980 to 30 September 1985. The Air Force used the heliport area and runway for performance testing of helicopters and other aircraft. The U.S. DoD facilities included runway expansion, fuel facilities, utilities, buildings, aircraft maintenance, hospital and barracks.
Historical airline service
Trans Sierra Airlines, a commuter air carrier, was serving the airport in 1971 with two daily flights to Los Angeles (LAX) and two daily flights to San Jose (SJC) operated with Cessna 402 twin prop aircraft. Trans Sierra then changed its name to Sierra Pacific Airlines which during the mid 1970s was operating direct service to Burbank (BUR) in the Los Angeles area and also to Las Vegas (LAS) via an intermediate stop at the nearby Mammoth Yosemite Airport as well as nonstop service to Fresno (FAT) with Handley Page Jetstream commuter propjets. In 1980 and 1981, Air Sierra was operating nonstop flights to Fresno with Piper Navajo twin prop aircraft. Also in 1981, Wings West Airlines was operating direct flights to Santa Monica (SMO) and Sacramento (SMF) via an intermediate stop at Mammoth Lakes Yosemite Airport as well as nonstop service to Oakland (OAK) with Cessna 402 twin prop aircraft. In 1983, Mojave Airlines was operating flights to Los Angeles (LAX), San Diego (SAN), Ontario (ONT), Inyokern (IYK) and Fox Field (WJF) in Lancaster with Beechcraft C99 commuter turboprops. By 1988, Alpha Air was providing commuter airline service with Beechcraft 1900C propjets direct to Los Angeles (LAX) and Oakland (OAK) as well as nonstop service to San Jose (SJC).
The airport currently does not have scheduled passenger flights although airline service is available from the Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH).
Accidents and incidents
- On March 13, 1974 a David L. Wolper Productions crew filming a National Geographic history of Australopithecus at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area was killed when Sierra Pacific Airlines Flight 802, a Convair 440, crashed shortly after take off from the airport, killing all 36 on board including 31 Wolper crew members (but not Wolper himself). The filmed segment was recovered in the wreckage and was broadcast in the television show Primal Man. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board never determined the cause of the accident and the resort sold the airline.
- On August 11, 2002, Galen Rowell, his wife Barbara Cushman Rowell, pilot Tom Reid, and Reid's friend Carol McAffee were killed when an Aero Commander 690 crashed on a night approach into Eastern Sierra Regional Airport.
- FAA Airport Master Record for BIH ( PDF), effective 2008-09-25.
- http://www.timetableimages.com, Dec. 1, 1971 Trans Sierra Airlines timetable
- Feb, 1, 1976 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Bishop flight schedules
- http://www.departedflights.com, Aug. 15, 1980 Air Sierra route map & April 1, 1981 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Fresno flight schedules
- http://www.departedflights.com, April 1, 1981 Wings West Airlines route map
- http://www.timetableimages.com, 1983 Mojave Airlines system timetable
- http://www.timetableimages.com, May 1, 1988 Alpha Air system timetable
- "The Primal Man Crash". Check-Six. April 26, 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
- Aviation Safety Network Accident Description
- FAA Terminal Procedures for BIH, effective April 27, 2017
- Resources for this airport: