A touchstone in aviation, filming, and IWV history

In 1943, a university professor and a Naval officer were flying over the Mojave Desert looking for a place to stage a joint rocket program during World War II. The duo looked down at Kern County "Airport No. 8," which which was established in 1935 to connect the remote Indian Wells Valley farming community to the outside world, and decided to look no further. Today, the extensive air and land ranges and laboratories now known as China Lake - home of some of the greatest technological minds in the nation, a powerful economic engine for the county, and a "national treasure" in arming and protecting our military are here because a forward-thinking pioneer decided to put a modest airstrip in an unassuming rural community.

Inyokern Airport continues to subtly shape the course of the culture and contributions of the Indian Wells Valley by providing a playground to intrepid aviators, hosting film crews for everything from commercials to major motion pictures, assisting in military and high-tech testing operations, and supporting some of the greatest milestones in manned and unmanned flight.

Inyokern Airport (IYK) is a public use airport located one mile northwest of Inyokern, California. It is owned and operated by the Indian Wells Valley Airport District, and serves the northeastern communities of Kern County, California.

Geographically, the airport is situated in the high desert of Southern California, 100 miles east-northeast of the county seat in Bakersfield, 80 miles north-northeast of the Lancaster and Palmdale areas, and 120 miles north-northwest of San Bernardino. The airport covers 1,640 acres at an elevation of 2,457 feet, with three asphalt paved runways that can accommodate almost any class of civilian, commercial, or military aircraft.

    Indian Wells Valley is a 33 mile north-south basin located in the northwestern most Mojave Desert, and east of the southern Sierra Nevada mountain range. Local communities include the cities of Inyokern, Ridgecrest, and Lake Isabella.


IYK seeks grant to restore air service

INYOKERN AIRPORT - In pursuit of a federal grant that could help draw a commuter air service vendor back into Inyokern Airport, General Manager Scott Seymour is seeking a $50,000 cash match for an application of $500,000 through the Department of Transportation's Small Communities Air Service Development program.

According to Seymour, IYK enjoyed more than 60 years of continuous air service, serving the needs of China Lake, Ridgecrest and the surrounding region. Changes in the industry in 2012, coupled with the 2013 moratorium on federal air travel during sequestration, drove the last vendor out.

"Last year we hired Sixel Consulting to help us with our DOT grant. As part of their research, they conducted a market study that showed we have 165,000 riders flying out of our service area every year," said Seymour.

"There are a lot of challenges that are keeping commuter airlines from opening up in new markets right now. We have found a couple that are willing to bring air service to Inyokern if we can guarantee a minimum ridership - that's where this grant will come in. But we are also very confident that, given the number of people looking for service, that we can work with the new airline to offer a competitive ticket price that will really be the most important factor in establishing the market."

Seymour said that by the end of 2013, Inyokern had the most expensive air travel, in terms of cost-per-mile, in the entire country.

"Our application for a grant was not selected last year. During our debrief, and through an analysis of the winning applicants, we learned that our lack of matching cash hurt us," he said.

While most communities seeking air service turn to local industry for that match, the top industry (in terms of both jobs and ridership), is the Navy - which is legally prohibited from contributing funds.

"Fortunately, we have several generous airport tenants that have helped us raise nearly half of our goal," said Seymour. "In addition, Jim Suver at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital has committed to $10,000 in matching funds."

Airport officials are also in talks with the city, Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce, China Lake Alliance, IWV Economic Development Corporation, Ridgecrest Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and other public agencies to raise money.

"I know how valuable air service is to our community, and I appreciate the support we have received in restoring that service to our valley," said Seymour. "Last year we had more than 200 businesses and individuals write letters of support - which is the most our consultant had ever seen from a single community.

"As we put together our grant package for the Department of Transportation, one of the things we want to convey is how invested out community is in support air service. If we can do that, I believe we have a shot of winning the grant."

Records set at IYK become official

World records set last year at Inyokern Airport by pioneer in electric flight Chip Yates were ratified last year by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, cementing IYK's place in aviation history as the site of eight of Yates' 11 world-record achievements for speed and altitude in an electric plane.

IYK budget reflects activity, growth

New fuel farm, restoration of commuter air service on track for this fiscal year

A 50-percent leap in revenue and a slate of projects that will continue infrastructure improvements at Inyokern Airport were depicted in the budget for fiscal year 2014-15 passed this week by the Indian Wells Valley Airport District Board of Directors.

Unmanned systems at Inyokern event

If you've ever wanted to learn more about the technology of Unmanned Aerial Systems, otherwise known as drones, Inyokern Airport has a deal for you. Amazing aerial demonstrations, static displays, kids' activities and entertainment will be in full force at Cal UAS Day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

GPS-guided parachute tests at IYK

A GPS-guided parachute Mist Mobility Integrated Systems Tech-nology Inc. touted as the "leader in precision aerial delivery systems" spent the last two weeks at Inyokern Airport in a series of tests the company staged for one of its latest developments.

"Hangover 3" file production brings IYK upgrades and economic boost

After a film crew for the Warner Bros. 2013 offering of "Hangover 3" wrapped at Inyokern Airport last week - a rumor which was only unofficially confirmed at press time - IYK CEO Scott Seymour came forward to acknowledge the project, as well as its positive fiscal impact on the local airport and the region.

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