Santa Paula Airport (KSZP) – 85 Years of Flight

By Sheryl Hamlin

As reported earlier, the August 2 First Sunday at the Santa Paula Airport was a celebration of the airport’s 85th anniversary. Founded in 1930 after the Stock Market Crash, all nineteen of the original investors were farmers. In honor of this important anniversary, Janice Dickenson, grand-daughter-in-law of one the founders, Ralph Dickenson, and Mitch Stone, local historian, are editing a history of the airport which will be called “Santa Paula Airport 85 Years of Flight”.

Janice indicated that it was a challenge culling from the massive history of the airport. Individual topics will be explored by specialists, such as Peggy Kelly, movie historian and journalist from the Santa Paula Times, who will write about the Hollywood connection. Significant events and eras throughout the museum’s 85 years will be covered, such as World War II. The book should be ready by October and will be just in time for holiday giving. They will be on sale at the airport museum or on the museum website.

The airport community is a tight knit family and there was a pall of sadness over the reported death on August 1st of an 82 year old pilot from Santa Paula. Locals within sight of the takeoff pattern reported hearing a plane take off in early morning fog on Saturday. Details may be read here.

Nothing could take the smile from the face of Pebbles, the Corgi, who enjoyed the scene from a vintage sidecar.

 Pebbles, the Corgi

Pebbles, the Corgi

The museum featured clothing worn by military personnel in the forties and fifties. One flight aficionado, Scott Cramolini, sported an outfit that would have been worn by an aviator, utility person or someone in the field. A trim 170 pounds, Scott would be considered small by today’s standards and the uniforms in the cabinets also appeared small. A well-fed post-war population benefited from the peace dividend and grew dramatically in height and weight. The car in back of Scott was a vintage Ford made up to be a “Prohibition Patrol Car”.

Scott Cramolini,

Scott Cramolini,

Uniforms below are from Joseph Rafferty, flight instructor, Marcine Cline, Red Cross nurse and U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Cline, who flew fighter jets and bombardiers in Korea and Vietnam.

uniforms1

A World War II Japanese flight suit and a World War II flight jacket belonging to Jane Arnold are featured in the next grouping of period uniforms.

uniforms2

David Watson, collector of English aeronautical parts, was hosting guests in his immaculate hangar. Two of his planes, the 1930 de Havilland Gypsy Moth and the de Havilland Tiger Moth from 1944, were on display. The Gypsy is flight ready, while the Tiger is a work-in-process over which Watson displays a Zen-like plaque about the importance of the process over the finish line. The first picture below is the Gypsy and the second is the Tiger. Watson has been a member of the Santa Paula Airport family for 15 years. His business supplies airplane parts for British planes. For example, the ceiling of the hangar is papered with nicely wrapped individual wings. For a detailed history of the ‘Moth’ hangar, click here.

Gypsy Moth

Gypsy Moth

Tiger Moth

Tiger Moth

Another festive group was found at hangar Number 8 “Bucker”. The U-72 is one of the most popular planes at the airport.

Number 8 “Bucker”

Number 8 “Bucker”

Molly Ryan of New York entertained the crowd with a fabulous group of musicians. One of my favorites was “You must have been a beautiful baby” featuring a mean clarinet. Her new album “Lets Fly Away” is being released just in time for this celebration. Her traditional jazz was a perfect backdrop for the early years of the Santa Paula Airport. Click to hear clips.

Photo credits: Sheryl Hamlin

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Sheryl Hamlin: With an MS in Industrial Engineering, Sheryl Hamlin spent years in technology with stints at Motorola, Tandem Computers and various startups. She has been on the boards of neighborhood organizations both in San Francisco and Palm Springs where planning issues were her specialty. She now resides in Santa Paula and loves the historic fabric of the city.  Ms. Hamlin’s blog Stealth Fashion  and  technology product ‘ Plug and Play Webmaster’.

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