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After 90 years, Van Nuys Airport throws itself a little bash

Airports thriving that long deserve NATIONAL CONGRATULATIONS

Strong User Base, rich history

Owned and operated by LAWA


A general aviation airport, which thrives over 90 years, should be celebrated by more that its neighbors; all of us, who fly for fun and/or work, should join in appreciating such successful longevity.

Located in the heart of the San Fernando Valley, Van Nuys Airport (VNY), owned by the Los Angeles World Airports, ranks as one of the world’s busiest general aviation airports. Dedicated to noncommercial air travel, VNY averages over 230,000 takeoffs and landings annually. VNY has two parallel runways – one with full instrument landing system – and a FAA tower.


The main runway is 8,000 feet in length and the training runway is 4,000 feet long. VNY has a rich history in aviation, hosting record breakers and celebrities over its 86 years in service. To learn more, click here

In addition, more than 100 businesses are located on the 730-acre airport, including four major fixed-base operators (FBOs): Castle & Cooke Aviation, Clay Lacy Aviation, Jet Aviation, and Signature Aviation.

These operators provide aircraft storage and parking, aviation fuel, aircraft sales, flight instruction, aircraft charter and aircraft maintenance. Some of the FBOs also serve as major leaseholders of airport property, subletting land and buildings to other airport tenants.

In addition, VNY serves as home to numerous companies that provide aviation support activities such as aircraft repairs, avionics, interior work and other specialized functions.



VNY is one of two airports owned by Los Angeles World Airports, including Los Angeles International Airport. The airport system operates under the direction of a policy-making Board of Airport Commissioners appointed by the Mayor of Los Angeles.

A Regional Approach to Meeting Passenger Demand

VNY plays a crucial role in the Southern California airport system, serving a variety of private, corporate and government aviation needs. By providing a place for general aviation, which encompasses all flying other than scheduled air carrier service or the military, VNY enhances both safety and efficiency at the region’s commercial airports.

As part of the regional approach to meeting passenger demand, VNY serves a vital purpose in reducing congestion and diminishing flight delays at Los Angeles International and other nearby airports. Contributing more than $2 billion each year to the Southern California economy, VNY creates jobs, promotes business and provides critical general aviation and emergency services. Business travelers and tourists using private, corporate and charter aircraft benefit from the airport’s convenient proximity to city business, recreation and entertainment centers. The airport also provides a base and maintenance facilities for fire, police, air ambulance, search and rescue, and news media aircraft that serve the region.


Van Nuys Airport gave itself a 90th birthday party on Monday, attracting a sprinkling of guests who paid tribute to the hub for its growth as a major presence in the Valley’s economy.

“The airport is surrounded by over a hundred businesses,” said Councilwoman Nury Martinez as she spoke amid the din of jets taking off from a nearby runway. “The metamorphosis of the airport is a direct reflection in the San Fernando Valley that they have experienced over the past 90 years.”

About 70 people gathered to celebrate the airport’s anniversary. Among speakers and participants were Board of Airports Commissioner Jeffrey Daar, Airport Manager Flora Margheritis and Kathryn Purwin, chief executive of Helinet Aviation.

(C) Kathryn Purwin, Helinet Aviation shows off the new helicopter toy ride for kids as a tribute to here late husband Alan Purwin, as Van Nuys Airport celebrates its 90th anniversary Monday Dec 17,2018. The airport payed tribute to the aviation pioneers and visionaries who first introduced the San Fernando Valley to the freedom of flight. Photo by Gene Blevins/Contributing Photographer

The airport payed tribute to the aviation pioneers and visionaries who first introduced the San Fernando Valley to the freedom of flight.

During its 90-year history, the airport was an epicenter of many historic events.








In 1944, Army Air Force photographer captured young Norma Jeane Dougherty, who worked at the airport’s drone assembly line. She soon became known to the world as Marilyn Monroe.

The opening scene from the movie “Casablanca,” starring  Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, was shot at one of the airport’s hangars.








Other movies with at least some production at the airport include “Crash,” “Midnight Run,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Oceans 13,” “The Bodyguard” and “A Star is Born,” starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.

The Valley Relics Museum recently moved from Chatsworth, filling a 10,000-square-foot space at the airport with a collection of neon signs, vintage vending machines and other Valley-related memorabilia.

Located in the heart of the San Fernando Valley, the airport stretches across 730 acres with 8,000-foot-long main and 4,000-foot-long training runways. With 230,000 annual takeoffs and landings, the facility has onsite U.S. Customs and Border Protection office, which allows passengers to fly internationally.

Owned and operated by Los Angeles World Airports — which also runs Los Angeles International Airport — Van Nuys Airport houses the Los Angeles Unified School District Aircraft Mechanic School, which trains future aircraft mechanics.

The airport is a vital economic engine, contributing about $2 billion annually to the economy and supporting 10,480 jobs. It generates about $294 million in federal, state and local taxes annually from lease, rental and user fees collected from its tenants.

Nearly 600 airplanes, jets and helicopters are based at the airport along with 100 businesses, including Signature Flight Support, Clay Lacy Aviation, Jet Aviation and Helinet Aviation, which dedicated specially-equipped helicopters to transport critically ill children from across the region. Since the program started a few years ago, Helinet has transported more than 9,000 patients for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Here are some highlights from the airport’s history:

1928 — Van Nuys Airport opens on 80 acres of farmland as Metropolitan Airport.

1940 — With the outbreak of World War II, the U.S. government purchased the land for use as a military base. The same year, one of the airport’s hangars was used for the movie “Casablanca.”

1949 — The airport is purchased by the city of Los Angeles for a dollar and renamed San Fernando Valley Airport.

1957 — The airport acquires a new name: Van Nuys Airport.

1959 — The Sherman Way Underpass is completed and extends the main runway to 8,000 feet.

By 1971, the airport becomes the busiest general aviation airport in the world, officials said. In 1990, the 146th Tactical Airlift Wing of the California National Guard leaves the airport, and the vacant land serves as an operation area for the American Red Cross in the weeks following the Northridge earthquake.

In 2000, LAWA launches its residential soundproofing program.

In 2004, the new FlyAway Bus Terminal opens.

A 2016 study is released by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., reporting that the airport contributes $2 billion to the economy.





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  1. Miclael D, Scott | December 19, 2018 at 2:30 pm | Reply

    Always great using and being based there. I was Capt. on several Corporate B-727’s and an HS-125 from 1984 to 2016. Was very interesting flying in or out of over a busy weekend to say the least, but always handled fine by the controllers. Retired now, but would love to be back doing it like the old days……….

  2. Great article. I’m a student pilot based there and have done my share of the quarter million to/landings. Ops are always smooth there and the controllers are top notch.

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