Santa Paula Airport KSZP receives the 2018 Outstanding Airport Award from FAA's Western Pacific Region

Copyright 2018, Doug Robertson, posted on 2018-08-04

For its efforts over nearly a month to shut down to serve as FireBase staging ground for the record Thomas Fire fighting, the Federal Aviation Agency has named Santa Paula Airport KSZP as the 2018 Western Region Winner for Outstanding Airport. SZP served as staging area for specialized aircraft fighting the nearby onset Thomas Fire, California's historic largest fire then by size. The airport was selected for its "exemplary support for the efforts to fight the Thomas Fire". The airport was used as a staging area for firefighting vertrep aircraft and refueling the firefighting aircraft on the closest airport to the fire's initial start just outside and northeast of the town of Santa Paula. The small airport beat out six such commercial airport candidates such as Guam's International Airport in the far Pacific Ocean from the continental USA. On June 12, the SZP airport was named recipient for the Outstanding Airport Award.  

The round the clock quick firebase support included halting all general aviation movement/use of the airport, turning it over to Cal Fire support units. Airport income was lost from no fuel sales and hangar rentals during the Firebase activities, which included refueling tankers mainly with Jet-A, replenishment loading of PhosChek, etc and sanitation and feeding of the firefighters who worked in continuous shifts managed from a central command post near the runway. SZP's FBOs/flight schools were affected financially also by the general aviation stoppage. Kudos to the SZP Manager, Rowena Mason who was honored to accept the award at a ceremony.

Note: The information enabling this article was published in a local newspaper on 4 August 2018; quite a delay from the award ceremony date in June 2018.

I have photo documentation of the SZP Thomas Fire FireBase activities here; see under the Airports section.

Incidentally, I landed at Agana, Guam for a fuel stop and takeoff once from Guam's only international airport in the 1970s, "Where America's Day Begins" was on a sign then at the very small air terminal, as Guam is America's first possession west of the International Dateline.

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