Concord Airport History
The history of Buchanan Field Airport, also known as Concord Airport, dates back to the World War II era where a training facility was needed for pilots of the unique Aircobra P-39 aircraft. Concord fit the bill for Bay Area needs as the weather and fog-free conditions made it most appealing. Following the end of the war, the airport was returned to the County of Contra Costa for public use and the airport was officially named Buchanan Field - after Supervisor William J. Buchanan, who served on the board for over 40 years. Over time several improvements were added to increase the utility of the airport. Some of the airport improvements included runway lighting and an operating control tower. During the Korean War, troops were flown out of Buchanan Field to/from Stoneman Base, located in Pittsburg, CA – which is adjacent to the airport. In the 1950’s, Stoneman Base was a bustling training facility. Needless to say the presence of Buchanan field aided the wartime efforts in many facets that most locals are unaware of.
Buchanan Field Expands
In 1968, SFO Helicopters – which operated old Sikorsky helicopters into San Francisco airport – added Concord Airport to their list of locations. The helicopter shuttle service was expanded to include places like the Emeryville helipad, Berkeley, and other nearby locations. The shuttle service was a great addition for those looking to get travel connections to larger airlines. During this period there were no options available for flying out of Concord Airport. This was about to change forever.
In 1970, Golden West started fixed-wing airline service out of Concord. They introduced the Beechcraft 99 - a 16 passenger turbo-propeller plane. The 1970’s was a busy time for Buchanan Field as aircraft movements topped at 357,000 per year in 1977. This surpassed SFO, JFK and LaGuardia airport movements. Buchanan was rated the 16th busiest airports in the country, which was a significant achievement. Many of the movements during this period were for flight training. The 70’s brought rising interest into General Aviation pilot license procurement at Buchanan airport. The 2 major flight schools were running planes all day long, 7 days a week, training many new private pilots. As California Bay Area popularity rose, so did the demand and interest of travelers, Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) began jet service out of Concord to fulfill this need. The introduction of convenient travel had started for Contra Costa County; there was no turning back. The public had a taste of the convenience of close-by airline jet service. American Eagle enters the public transport market offering airline service from Concord as well. Business was good, the energy crisis was upon us and costs were high, fuel was a major hit for small short commuting airline operations.
Concord Airport Now
Currently Concord Airport is on Federal property that is managed by the County of Contra Costa, and as such provides a public service for all types of aviation activities. It provides public usage for commercial, business and general aviation activities covering a wide range of interests and needs. These range from private pilot training to commercial airline pilot training. Many foreign airlines send their pilots to America for the quality and efficient pilot curriculum available and offered in Concord. In addition, there has been and still are several flying clubs at the airport offering pilots alternatives to traditional rental and private aircraft use. These clubs also help pilots interact with each other and for their families to participate in educational meetings, barbeques and more. The airport is a social center for many Californians. It continues to provide a bond amongst pilots and a pivotal link for locals as well as transients. While Concord is urban, the airport has a welcoming small town vibe. Concord airport’s policy towards the non-aviation public is also noticeable. It offers playgrounds, sitting areas, and strategic viewing spots to watch planes come and go. The airport is not only for pilots, travelers and business aviation users; it’s a public common California metropolis that caters to many. There are many people who come to eat their lunch outside or in their vehicles on a daily basis; we see it every day - young, old and new. Corporate aviation activities also take place for a variety of companies and entrepreneurs. Managing or housing your private jets or propeller business machine is managed in a professional manner by Concord Jet Services. They will also be providing the ground and fueling support for the new Jetsuite Airlines, which will be located on the west side of the airport. Several corporate flight departments operate here as well as an aircraft refinement manufacturing company. Aircraft charter and leasing is offered too, in cabin-class twin-engine pressurized Cessna Golden Eagles - giving the traveler many choices of flight services to select from.
A Slow Period
In 1988, the Board of Supervisors passed a noise restriction rule for aircrafts. This limited the viability of airliners being able to utilize Concord Airport. With the steep rise in fuel costs, airline service was getting pulled back from Contra Costa County. The down economy and local political approach towards noise reduction put a damper on airline operations.
Buchanan Field always had to local community in mind. In 1989, General Aviation pilots flew 50,000 pounds of supplies out to Santa Cruz County after the devastating earthquake of Loma Prieta shook the Bay Area. This demonstrated how a community of local pilots can band together in crisis and provide essential air service when needed. These pilots played an essential role in coping with the natural disaster that effected the Bay Area.
In 1992, some of the outlying property surrounding the aircraft runways and hangars was developed for commercial non-aviation activities. This is where Sam’s Club, Taco Bell, Sports Authority and Jiffy Lube now reside. The airport was quickly expanding. The variety of businesses supported by the airport provided income and taxes to support the increasing demand for services in Contra Costa County.
What's New At Buchanan Field
The newest and best part of the Buchanan Airport development is the re-instatement of public travel services by an airline operating out of the original airline terminal. This has been remodeled by Jet-Suites in co-operation with the County of Contra Costa. The new airlines service will provide Concord-Burbank flights 5 times a day leaving at 7 am and a return flight from Burbank to Concord leaving at 4 pm. In addition, Friday travelers will have the opportunity to fly direct from Concord to Palm Springs and return Sunday afternoon Palm Springs to Concord.
If this initial phase of offered flights is successful, this new service will certainly expand. Keep in mind that the public flight availability will have a much simpler security system while still providing public safety - a much needed and welcome path for travelers. Most travelers cringe at the thought of TSA processes and long lines. And we’ve all heard horror stories about trying to get to/from the airport terminals.
To augment this, Premiere Aviation - located in the Concord Jet center - offers refined business aircraft dry leasing to fly wherever you want whenever you want without getting burdened with high fixed costs or the irregularity of aircraft charters. You fly with a few hand selected pilots in a few different planes. It is like having your own private business plane without the high fixed costs normally associated with aircraft ownership. It is the best of both worlds. With Premiere Aviation’s patented aerodynamic Speed Covers installed, the fuel efficiency improves 20% over traditional configurations. Fly in the Prius of the sky, locally in a discreet and private setting that allows you to work uninterrupted. Feel special without the stress or hassle of normal commercial airline travel.