San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport

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San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport
McChesney Field
San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport - California.jpg
Airport type Public
Operator San Luis Obispo County
Location San Luis Obispo, California
Elevation AMSL 212 ft / 64.5 m
Coordinates 35°14′13″N 120°38′31″W / 35.23694°N 120.64194°W / 35.23694; -120.64194
KSBP is located in California
Direction Length Surface
ft m
11/29 6,100 1,859 Asphalt
7/25 2,500 762 Asphalt
Statistics (2014)
Airline Passengers 302,652
Total aircraft operations 67,772
Freight (in U.S. tons) 5,651
Based aircraft 305
Source: San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport Statistics Reports [1]

San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport (IATA: SBPICAO: KSBPFAA LID: SBP), McChesney Field is a civilian airport near San Luis Obispo, California with general, cargo and corporate/executive aviation facilities. Two passenger airlines operate flights to Los Angeles (LAX), Phoenix (PHX) and San Francisco (SFO). New nonstop service to Seattle (SEA) has been announced effective April 13, 2017.[2] The airport was established in 1939, and used by the US military between 1939 and 1945.


In 1933, Pacific Seaboard Air Lines was operating two daily round trip flights with single engine Bellanca CH-300 aircraft on an intrastate routing of Los Angeles - Santa Barbara - Santa Maria - San Luis Obispo - Paso Robles - Monterey - Salinas - San Jose - San Francisco.[3] Pacific Seaboard would subsequently move its entire operation to the eastern U.S., be renamed Chicago and Southern Air Lines, become a large domestic and international air carrier and then in 1953 be acquired by and merged into Delta Air Lines thus providing Delta with its first international routes.[4][full citation needed]

Earl Thomson, along with his brothers-in-law, William "Chris" and David Hoover, talked county officials into leasing them the land for an airport. By April 1939 it opened with an 88-by-100-foot (27 by 30 m) hangar and dirt runways.[citation needed]

During World War II the federal government took over the airport: From 1938 until 1941, the U.S. Army Air Corps and the California National Guard used 218 acres as an aerial observation training center; In 1940 the War Department added hard surface runways and lights, barracks, hangars, and mechanic shops.[5] In 1940 and 1941, 183 private pilots and 20 advanced students were trained here though a federally sponsored Civilian Pilot Training Program for armed services fliers.[citation needed] In 1943, the Navy began using the airport as a training center for the Pacific Fleet.[5]

The federal government turned the airport back to the county in 1946.[citation needed] Southwest Airways started passenger flights with Douglas DC-3s that year.[citation needed]

Southwest Airways Douglas DC-3 flights to San Luis Obispo lasted from 1946 to 1956 when the airline moved to Paso Robles Municipal Airport (PRB) in northern San Luis Obispo County due to the 4000-ft runway at San Luis Obispo being too short for larger aircraft such as the Martin 4-0-4 and Fairchild F-27. Pacific Air Lines, Air West and Hughes Airwest, successors to Southwest Airways, listed San Luis Obispo in their timetables but actually served Paso Robles with F-27s until 1974.[6][7]

In 1947 county supervisors contracted for another hangar, ramp, and eventually an administration building. The supervisors named Chris Hoover full-time airport manager in 1953.[citation needed]

San Luis Obispo Airport had no scheduled airline service from 1956 until 1969 when Swift Aire Lines began scheduled flights with Piper Navajo twin prop aircraft. Swift Aire's headquarters were at San Luis Obispo; it eventually operated Fokker F27 turboprops purchased new from Fokker as well as Nord 262 turboprops and de Havilland Heron prop aircraft.[citation needed]

In 1975, after ending service to Paso Robles the year before, Hughes Airwest was operating McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 jetliners into nearby Santa Maria Public Airport (SMX) in an attempt to continue to serve the San Luis Obispo area; however, this nonstop jet service to Los Angeles and San Francisco from SMX in northern Santa Barbara County only lasted a short time.[8]

After the 1981 demise of Swift Aire after an unsuccessful merger with Golden Gate Airlines, Wings West Airlines established its headquarters in San Luis Obispo and flew several turboprop types, first as an independent commuter carrier and later as American Eagle on behalf of American Airlines via a code sharing agreement.[citation needed] Propjets flown by Wings West to San Luis Obispo included the British Aerospace BAe Jetstream 31 and Jetstream 32, the Beechcraft C99, the Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner (Metro III models) and the Saab 340.[citation needed] American Eagle later[when?] flew Embraer ERJ-140 regional jets to Los Angeles and San Jose.[citation needed]

In 1987 the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport was dedicated as McChesney Field, in honor of Leroy E. McChesney for his leadership and dedication to aviation. McChesney lived in the county since 1920 and had been a pilot since 1949. He was a longtime member of the California Aviation Council, a member of the California Aeronautics Board, and the Grand Marshal of the first Airport Day in 1984.[citation needed]

In 1988 a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) control tower opened and SkyWest Airlines, WestAir operating as United Express and Wings West (later merged into American Eagle) were flying commuter turboprop aircraft with WestAir operating the Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante followed by the British Aerospace BAe Jetstream 31.[citation needed]

The airport previously[when?] had Delta Connection service flown by SkyWest Airlines nonstop to Salt Lake City operated with Canadair CRJ-200 regional jets which ended on September 1, 2008. America West Express Canadair CRJ-200s operated by Mesa Airlines flew nonstop to Phoenix and Las Vegas; the Las Vegas flights were then discontinued.[citation needed]

Several other commuter airlines served San Luis Obispo over the years[when?] with turboprops flying nonstop to Los Angeles (LAX) including Delta Connection service operated by SkyWest with Fairchild Swearingen Metroliners (Metro II and Metro III models) and Embraer EMB-120 Brasilias, Imperial Airlines operating Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirantes, Mesa Airlines flying as United Express and operating Beechcraft 1900Cs and USAir Express operated by Trans States Airlines flying British Aerospace BAe Jetstream 32s.[9] With the merger of America West Airlines and US Airways, the America West Express service between San Luis Obispo and Phoenix was transferred to US Airways Express[when?], which then began operating as American Eagle after the American Airlines-US Airways merger.[citation needed]

Until 2008, the two airlines serving San Luis Obispo were United Express operated by SkyWest Airlines and American Eagle operated by Mesa Airlines. United Express Canadair CRJ-200 regional jets flew nonstop to Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) while American Eagle Canadair CRJ-900s flew[when?] nonstop to Phoenix (PHX) with the CRJ-900 currently being the largest aircraft operating scheduled passenger flights into San Luis Obispo.[citation needed]

On August 27, 2008 US Airways Express flown by Mesa Airlines announced an expansion of service to San Luis Obispo Airport. Beginning October 2, 2008 the Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet 900 (CRJ-900) replaced the smaller CRJ-200 series on the Phoenix flights offering 36 more seats on these twice-daily flights.[10] US Airways later turned this service over to SkyWest Airlines which was flying the nonstop service to Phoenix with Canadair CRJ-200 regional jets with 50 coach seats as US Airways Express. SkyWest also currently[when?] operates Canadair CRJ-200 regional jets as United Express on all nonstop flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco.[citation needed]In November 2008, American Eagle stopped serving San Luis Obispo, and closed its maintenance and operational base on the airport. Allegiant Air attempted to serve the airport with daily nonstop flights to Las Vegas operated with McDonnell Douglas MD-80 jetliners; however, the relatively short runway at SBP at the time restricted their service. Allegiant's service was later moved to Santa Maria Airport[11]

In January 2009, an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-400 jetliner arrived at SBP from Chico, California as a charter flight and was the largest aircraft ever to land at San Luis at that time. The flight was carrying 125 members of the San Francisco Symphony arriving to perform at Cal Poly's Performing Arts Center.[12] From April 1 to the 4th, 2009 Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-700 and Frontier Airlines Airbus A319 jetliners operated as charter flights arrived at San Luis Obispo County transporting Oregon National Guard military troops. The A319 was the largest aircraft to have ever landed at San Luis Obispo.[13] Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 jet aircraft have also recently landed at San Luis Obispo Airport as part of military charter operations.

Environmental contamination[edit]

In October 2015, trichloroethylene or TCE exceeding federal drinking water standards was found in twelve of 69 water wells of the Buckley Road area of SLO.[14] The airport was suspected as possible source, the county denied it as unlikely, but submitted a work plan on April 15, 2016 as the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board had requested, how to investigate soil, soil gas, and groundwater including locations northeast of the airport’s runways.[14] an estimated 48 residents have already filed claims against the county, for negligence "when it allowed the dumping of TCE and other toxic chemicals on airport property in the 1960s and 1970s".[14]

SLO airport had been inspected and designated as a Formerly Used Defense Site FUDS in 1997, eligible for funds under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP) but no tests were done.[5]


The airport covers 340 acres (138 ha) and has two runways:

  • 11/29: 6,100 x 150 ft (1,859 x 46 m) Asphalt
  • 7/25: 2,500 x 100 ft (762 x 30 m) Asphalt

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Airlines Destinations
Alaska Airlines
operated by SkyWest Airlines
Seattle/Tacoma (begins April 13, 2017)[15]
American Eagle Phoenix–Sky Harbor
United Express Los Angeles, San Francisco

On July 17, 2013, US Airways Express resumed Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet 900 (CRJ-900) service to San Luis Obispo Airport from Phoenix. Three daily flights include one flight operated with a CRJ 900 with First Class and one flight operated with a CRJ 900 without First Class, and one flight operated with a CRJ 200 by SkyWest.[16] These flights are now operated as American Eagle service with all flights to Phoenix featuring larger Canadair CRJ-900 regional jets.[citation needed]

On April 7, 2015, SkyWest Airlines operating as United Express began flying Canadair CRJ-200 regional jets on all flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco as replacement aircraft for the Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia turboprops formerly used for many years on these routes, so all scheduled passenger airline flights serving San Luis Obispo have since been operated with regional jets for the first time in the history of the airport..[17][full citation needed]

Alaska Airlines has announced new nonstop service between Seattle (SEA) and San Luis Obispo effective April 13, 2017 which will be flown by SkyWest Airlines with Embraer E-175 regional jets.[18]


Airline Destination
Ameriflight Oakland
FedEx Feeder operated by West Air Ontario

Fixed-base operators[edit]


  • August 24, 1984 - Wings West Airlines / Flight 628 Midair collision. Shortly after departing the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport on a commuter flight to San Francisco International Airport, a Wings West Airlines twin-engine Beechcraft C99 (N6399U) collided head-on with a private Rockwell Commander 112TC aircraft (N112SM) that was descending for a landing at the same airport.[23]
  • January 8, 2009 - A Beechcraft Bonanza (BE36-A36) landed with its gear up causing runway 29/11 to be closed for about an hour. The pilot was the only person aboard and was not injured. The runway closure caused a SkyWest flight from San Francisco to divert to Southern California.[24]
  • March 17, 2009 - At 3:00pm a Piper Comanche (PA-24) missed the runway on landing, apparently catching a wind gust. The wind caused the aircraft to veer off the runway, down a grass side embankment and through a fence. The incident caused the runway to be closed for 10 to 15 minutes but no aircraft were delayed. The one occupant of the aircraft, the pilot, was not injured.[25]
  • June 24, 2013 - A Cessna Skymaster crashed into a Federal Express truck and a building about 1.5 miles northwest of the airport after takeoff, killing the pilot. The pilot had reportedly made a mayday call shortly before the crash.[26]Cessna Skymaster
  • December 15, 2015 - A Cessna 210 landed with its gear up and caused the closure of runway 29/11. There were no injuries to any of the three passengers, and the runway was reopened the same day. It is unknown why the landing gear failed to extend.[27]

See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport, 2014 Statistics Reports
  2. ^, Newsroom
  3. ^ Summer 1933 Pacific Seaboard Air Lines system timetable
  4. ^ Chicago and Southern (C&S) Air Lines
  5. ^ a b c CHRIS MCGUINNESS (27 April 2016). "Military's use of SLO Airport may have played a role in groundwater contamination". NewsgroupTimes New Times Check |newsgroup= value (help). Retrieved 29 April 2016. 
  6. ^ April 2, 1968 Pacific Air Lines timetable & July 1, 1968 Air West timetable
  7. ^ July 1, 1972 Hughes Airwest timetable
  8. ^ Oct. 26, 1975 Hughes Airwest timetable
  9. ^ July 1, 1983 & April 2, 1995 Official Airline Guide (OAG) editions
  10. ^ Seiler, Colin (2008-08-27). "U.S. Airways to expand service to San Luis Obispo's airport". KSBY 6 Action News. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  11. ^ Stark, Lisa (2008-09-12). "Struggles of a Small California Airport". Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  12. ^ Lee, Amber (2009-01-23). "A first for San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport as a Boeing 737 arrives". KSBY 6 Action News. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  14. ^ a b c CHRIS MCGUINNESS (20 April 2016). "SLO County Airport submits TCE testing plan". New Times. Retrieved 29 April 2016. 
  15. ^ Duerr, Sandra (June 28, 2016). "Alaska Airlines flight to Seattle coming to San Luis Obispo County airport". The Tribune (San Luis Obispo). Retrieved June 29, 2016. 
  16. ^
  17. ^, Press Releases
  18. ^, Newsroom
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Beechcraft C99 N6399U San Luis Obispo, CA". Aviation Safety Network. 1985-08-29. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  24. ^ Myers, Justin (2009-01-08). "Crash-landing at San Luis Obispo airport closes runway". KSBY 6 Action News. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  25. ^ James, Jill (2009-03-17). "Plane misses the runway at San Luis Obispo's airport". KSBY 6 Action News. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  26. ^ Hickey, Julia (2013-06-26). "San Luis Obispo plane crash investigation continues". Retrieved 2013-07-16. 
  27. ^ Fountain, Matt (15 December 2015). "Plane lands at SLO airport without landing gear". The Tribune. Retrieved 17 December 2015. 

External links[edit]