Santa Maria Public Airport

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Santa Maria Public Airport

Capt. G. Allan Hancock Field
Santa Maria Army Airfield
SMX logo.png
Santa Maria Public Airport-2006-USGS.jpg
2006 USGS photo
Airport typePublic
OwnerSanta Maria Public Airport District
ServesSanta Maria, California
Elevation AMSL261 ft / 80 m
Coordinates34°53′56″N 120°27′27″W / 34.89889°N 120.45750°W / 34.89889; -120.45750Coordinates: 34°53′56″N 120°27′27″W / 34.89889°N 120.45750°W / 34.89889; -120.45750
SMX is located in California
SMX is located in the United States
Direction Length Surface
ft m
12/30 8,004 2,440 Asphalt
2/20 5,189 1,582 Asphalt
Statistics (2017)
Aircraft operations38,519
Based aircraft212
Source: FAA,[1] airport website[2]
FAA diagram before runway extension

Santa Maria Public Airport (Capt. G. Allan Hancock Field) (IATA: SMX, ICAO: KSMX, FAA LID: SMX) is three miles (5 km) south of Santa Maria, in northern Santa Barbara County, California, United States.[1]


The airport was built by the United States Army during World War II, known as Santa Maria Army Air Field.[3] Its primary mission was to provide training for B-24 bomber pilots, however flight training was abandoned by December 1942. The field fell into a state of disuse until the arrival of the Lockheed P-38 twin engine fighter in September 1943.

During its use by the military Santa Maria AAF also controlled Estrella Army Airfield, near Paso Robles as an auxiliary airfield to support the pilot training activity.

After the war Santa Barbara County and the city of Santa Maria acquired the land and facilities through two grants in 1948. In 1964 the Army Air Field was renamed Santa Maria Public Airport.

In 2020, the airport was again used for training by a fleet of military jets while Naval Air Station Point Mugu was performing maintenance. The fleet consisted of six 1960 British Strike Fighter jets and two 1970 Israeli Interceptor jets.[4]

Past airline service[edit]

The first airline at Santa Maria was Pacific Seaboard Air Lines. In 1933 Pacific Seaboard scheduled two daily Bellanca CH-300s Los Angeles - Santa Barbara - Santa Maria - San Luis Obispo - Paso Robles - Monterey - Salinas - San Jose - San Francisco.[5] After receiving a mail contract, Pacific Seaboard moved its entire operation to the eastern U.S. in 1934, be renamed Chicago and Southern Air Lines, and in 1953 was acquired by and merged into Delta Air Lines.[6] Southwest Airways Douglas DC-3s began service during the 1940s. The June 1, 1947 timetable lists three daily round trips Los Angeles-Oxnard-Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis Obispo-Coalinga-Monterey-Santa Cruz/Watsonville-San Jose/Moffett Field-San Francisco.[7] Southwest changed its name to Pacific Air Lines and operated Martin 4-0-4s and Fairchild F-27s to Santa Maria in the 1960s. Pacific merged with Bonanza Air Lines and West Coast Airlines to form Air West in 1968, which became Hughes Airwest in 1970. Hughes Airwest then served Santa Maria with McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30s and Fairchild F-27s.[8] In 1974 and 1975 Hughes Airwest operated McDonnell Douglas DC-9 Series 30 jets to Los Angeles and San Francisco.[9] This was the only time Santa Maria had nonstop mainline jets to LAX and SFO at the same time. DC-9 jet flights ended in 1976 and Hughes Airwest F-27 flights to Santa Maria ended in 1979.

A number of commuter airlines served the airport. In 1968 Cable Commuter Airlines was flying de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otters to LAX.[10] Cable Commuter was later merged into Golden West Airlines but service to Santa Maria ended in the early 1970's. Golden West briefly returned to the airport in 1982 using Short 330 aircraft. Santa Barbara-based Apollo Airways (which changed its name to Pacific Coast Airlines) flying Handley Page HP.137 Jetstreams served Santa Maria for a period in the latter 1970's.

Swift Aire Lines, based at nearby San Luis Obispo Airport, served Santa Maria through most of the 1970's decade with flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose, mainly with new Fokker F27 Friendships.[11] Swift Aire also operated Nord 262s and de Havilland Herons to the airport and ended service in 1981.

Wings West Airlines began service as an independent commuter air carrier in 1982 and then began operating as American Eagle on behalf of American Airlines in 1986. The carrier flew to Los Angeles and San Francisco using Beechcraft C99s, Fairchild Swearingen Metroliners, BAe Jetstream 31s, and Saab 340s. Service was discontinued service in 1996.

West Air began flying as United Express on behalf of United Airlines in 1986 to San Francisco and later to Los Angeles. West Air flew BAe Jetstream 31s and Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirantes. Mesa Airlines bought out West Air in 1992 and continued service as United Express until 1997. From 1993 through 1995 Mesa operated as CalPac using Beechcraft 1900Cs on its United Express service.

SkyWest Airlines began flights to Santa Maria in 1985 when it acquired Sun Aire Lines which had begun serving the airport in 1982. In 1986 SkyWest began a code sharing agreement with Western Airlines and began flying as Western Express. One year later Western Airlines merged into Delta Air Lines and SkyWest's flights then began operating as Delta Connection. The carrier flew Fairchild Swearingen Metroliners and Embraer EMB-120 Brasilias mainly to Los Angeles.[12] In 1997 SkyWest changed its service from operating as Delta Connection to operate as United Express on behalf of United Airlines (replacing Mesa Airlines) still with service nonstop to Los Angeles using Embraer EMB-120 Brasilias. Flights to LAX were discontinued in 2015 in favor of nonstop flights to SFO using Canadair regional jets however SkyWest operating as United Express ceased all operations at Santa Maria on October 5, 2016.[13]

Mokulele Airlines Cessna 208 Caravans replaced the SkyWest/United Express service to Los Angeles (LAX). In 2016, Mokulele moved its flights to the Los Angeles area from LAX to the Hollywood Burbank Airport but then dropped Santa Maria on November 30, 2017.[14]

During the peak of its airline service from 1986 through 1996, Santa Maria saw service by American Eagle, Delta Connection, and United Express simultaneously and all three air carriers were operating a combined total of up to 22 flights per day to Los Angeles plus several flights to San Francisco with turboprop commuter aircraft. From 1997 until 2006 United Express was the only carrier at Santa Maria. Since United Express left Santa Maria in 2016, the city has had no service by an IATA carrier.[15]

Current Airline Service[edit]

Allegiant Air began serving Santa Maria in 2006. The carrier flies Airbus A319 mainline jets nonstop to Las Vegas on four days per week each way as well as to Phoenix twice per week and is planning to begin new nonstop service to Portland, OR. In 2012 Allegiant Air briefly operated weekly Boeing 757-200 mainline jets from Santa Maria nonstop to Honolulu. [16]

United Express operated by SkyWest Airlines is planned to return service on September 30, 2021 with a single daily flight to Denver and once daily to San Francisco. Both flights are planned to operated with Bombardier CRJ100/200 regional jets. The service was planned to start on June 4, 2020 but has been postponed several times due to the pandemic.


The airport covers 2,516 acres (1,018 ha) and has two asphalt runways: 12/30, 8,004 x 150 ft (2,439 x 46 m) and 2/20, 5,189 x 75 ft (1,582 x 23 m).[1]

In 2007 the airport had 62,480 aircraft operations, average 171 per day: 79% general aviation, 19% air taxi, 2% military and <1% airline. 243 aircraft are based at the airport: 83% single-engine, 7% multi-engine, 6% helicopter, 3% jet, <1% glider and <1% ultralight.

A new baggage claim facility opened in 2007. It was one of the first airports on the Central Coast to use a state of the art baggage carousel, on a small scale.

A new terminal holding room opened in February 2008. The old area had room for 30 passengers. Designed for the Allegiant Air flights, the new holding room accommodates 200 passengers and has room for a cafe.

A runway extension was completed on May 3, 2012, from 6,304 ft. to 8,004 ft.[17] The extended runway at Santa Maria[17] gives the airport the longest civil runway between Los Angeles and San Jose[18] on the central coast (Bakersfield's primary runway at Meadows Field in the Central Valley (10855 x 150 ft.) and Vandenberg AFB's runway (15000 x 200 ft.) are longer).


November 2007 to October 2008: 56,553 passengers (SkyWest), 53,294 passengers (Allegiant), total 109,847 passengers.[19]

November 2008 to October 2009, 48,117 passengers (SkyWest), 37,570 passengers (Allegiant), total 85,687 passengers.[19]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Allegiant Air Las Vegas, Phoenix/Mesa, Portland (OR)[20]
United Express Denver (begins June 3, 2021), Los Angeles (begins June 3, 2021), San Francisco (begins June 4, 2021)[21]


Airline Destination
FedEx Feeder Ontario


Busiest domestic routes from SMX
(September 2019 - August 2020)
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Las Vegas, Nevada 15,220 Allegiant
2 Phoenix/Mesa, Arizona 20,550 Allegiant

Annual traffic[edit]

Annual Passenger Traffic at PVU[23]
Year Passengers Year Passengers
2016 78,000 2019 48,000
2017 47,000 2020 31,000 YTD
2018 45,000 2021

Ground transportation[edit]

The airport is located south of Santa Maria along Skyway Drive at Terminal Drive. Both US 101 and State Route 135 (Broadway) can be reached from the airport by heading north on Skyway Drive and then turning east onto Betteravia Road. Short and long-term parking is available, but passenger vehicles left more than 14 days must obtain prior approval by the Airport Administration.[24]

The airport is served by Santa Maria Area Transit routes 4 and the Breeze, the Santa Maria Cab Company, Lyft, Uber, and other local services.[25]

Allan Hancock Field[edit]

The original Allan Hancock Field was established in 1927 at another location, between Jones Street to the north, Stowell Road to the south, Bradley Road to the east and Miller Street to the west. The airport housed the Allan Hancock College of Aeronautics operated by the Hancock Foundation of Aeronautics. Before World War II, it was one of eight civil training military aviation cadets.[26] After the war the field was used by the University of Southern California for their four-year Aeronautics Degree program. In 1958 a bond was passed allowing Santa Maria Junior College to purchase the land, much of which would become the campus of what is now known as Allan Hancock College.[27] The name of the original Santa Maria Airport and Hancock's name then transferred to the other, now public airport in town.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c FAA Airport Form 5010 for SMX PDF, effective 2007-10-25
  2. ^ Santa Maria Public Airport, official site
  3. ^ "Santa Maria Army Air Field".
  4. ^ Hill, Naja (2020-02-07). "Fleet of military jets use a Santa Maria runway to train". KEYT | KCOY. Retrieved 2020-02-07.
  5. ^, Summer 1933 Pacific Seaboard timetable
  6. ^, Chicago and Southern (C&S) Air Lines
  7. ^; June 1, 1947 Southwest Airways timetable
  8. ^, April 15, 1975 Official Airline Guide (OAG)
  9. ^; Oct. 26, 1975 Hughes Airwest timetable
  10. ^, Dec. 1, 1968 Cable Commuter Airlines timetable
  11. ^; April 1, 1981 Official Airline Guide
  12. ^; Dec. 15, 1989 Official Airline Guide
  13. ^ [1][dead link]
  14. ^ "Mokulele Airlines | A SOUTHERN AIRWAYS COMPANY". Mokulele Airlines | Hawaii's Favorite Island Hopper.
  15. ^ Multiple issues of the Official Airline Guide
  16. ^ [2], "First 757 touches down at Santa Maria Airport"
  17. ^ a b [3][dead link]
  18. ^ San Jose Airport website
  19. ^ a b, Julian J. Ramos / Staff Writer /. "Airport report shows drop in passengers flying out of SMX". Santa Maria Times.
  20. ^ Gilbertson, Dawn. "Allegiant Air aims for pandemic vacationers with flights to 3 new cities, including Jackson Hole and Portland". USA TODAY.
  21. ^ Martellotti, Patricia (March 21, 2020). "Santa Maria Public Airport: Launch date for United Airlines delayed due to coronavirus spread".
  22. ^ "San Maria, California". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Nov 2020.
  23. ^ "OST_R - BTS - Transtats".
  24. ^ "FAQs". Santa Maria Public Airport. Retrieved March 31, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  25. ^ "Airport Services". Santa Maria Public Airport. Retrieved March 31, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  26. ^ "Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: California: Santa Barbara area".
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-05. Retrieved 2012-04-09. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

External links[edit]