California’s historic Santa Monica Airport (SMO) will close in 2028 after a bitter battle between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the City of Santa Monica.

The airport is said to have been used as an informal grass landing field by barnstormers and wing walkers as early as 1917. It is the oldest operating airport in Los Angeles County and was once the home of Douglas Aircraft Company. Douglas who employed up to 44,000 people built and tested many famous aircraft at the site including the DC-3.

The City of Santa Monica and the FAA have been embroiled in many lawsuits over the airport facility which spans 227 acres. The FAA wanted to keep the airfield open despite efforts by the city to close it down.

“We were surprised at the announcement of the settlement between the FAA and the city of Santa Monica regarding its airport,” said Jack Pelton, chairman and CEO of the Experimental Aircraft Association.

“It is certainly a disappointing development, first concerning the immediate ability to shorten the runway, and the ultimate ability to close the airport in 2028. While we can only guess at the inside discussions to reach this settlement, as to our knowledge the airport’s stakeholders were not a part of it. The founding principles of FAA grant assurances are to maintain stability for an airport and its users as part of the National Airspace System, above local political maneuvering.” – AINonline

The airport is located just two miles from the Pacific Ocean and six miles north of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The City of Santa Monica claims they should not be held to a 1948 agreement with the federal government that they would agree to keep the land for aviation use in perpetuity in exchange for title to the property.

Reports are that the city wants to turn the airport into a park.

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Photo of Santa Monica Airport (SMO) by United States Geological Survey (USGS)

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

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