Visalia Municipal Airport
|Visalia Municipal Airport
Visalia Army Airfield
|USGS 2006 orthophoto|
|IATA: VIS – ICAO: KVIS – FAA LID: VIS|
|Owner||City of Visalia|
|Elevation AMSL||295 ft / 90 m|
|Source: Federal Aviation Administration|
Visalia Municipal Airport (IATA: VIS, ICAO: KVIS, FAA LID: VIS) is a city-owned public-use airport five miles west of downtown Visalia, in Tulare County, California. The airport is served by one commercial airline which is subsidized by the Essential Air Service program.
Federal Aviation Administration records show 1,831 passenger boardings (enplanements) in calendar year 2010, a decrease of 25.4% from the 2,455 enplanements in 2009. It is included in the FAA's National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2011–2015, which categorized it as a general aviation airport (the commercial service category requires at least 2,500 enplanements per year).
Visalia Municipal Airport was built in 1927 and purchased by the city in 1928. In 1936 the Works Progress Administration (WPA) began several projects at the Visalia Municipal Airport. The WPA would continue to make improvements at field until 1942 when the War Department assumed control of the field.
Unlike the construction of other military airfields of World War II, Visalia Army Airfield seems to have used the existing municipal airport. Operations at Visalia AAF began almost immediately upon the United States Army Air Forces control of the airfield. Anti-submarine patrols were conducted from Visalia AAF by the Lockheed A-29 Hudson, and later B-25 Mitchell medium bombers, equipped 47th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) from February until June 1942.
Visalia AAF (along with Hayward AAF and Palmdale AAF) was established as a sub-installations of Fresno's Hammer Field. It shared Hammer Field's mission to train light, medium and heavy bomber squadrons. During that period Consolidated B-24 "Liberator", North American B-25 "Mitchell", Martin B-26 "Marauder" and the previously stated Lockheed A-29 "Hudson" bombers operated from Visalia AAF.
In January 1944 the Headquarters, Army Air Forces ordered the entire Air University night fighter training program to California to be headquartered at Hammer Field. Under the overall supervision of Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics (AAFSAT) and the 481st Night Fighter Operational Training Group, night fighter crews were organized into Overseas Training Units and entered three phases of training.
In all phases, Visalia AAF was used as a satellite training site. During this period, Douglas P-70 "Nighthawk" (heavy night fighter version of the A-20 "Havoc" light bomber) and Northrop P-61 "Black Widow" operated from Visalia AAF. It is known that the 425th Night Fighter Squadron stationed at Visalia AAF for its entire training cycle from February until May 1944 when it deployed to the European Theater at RAF Charmy Down, England as part of the Ninth Air Force.
In 1946 the War Assets Administration, acting on behalf of the War Department, terminated the leases with the City of Visalia and other parties with the remainder of the lands transferred to the City of Visalia in 1947. United Airlines flights began in 1946-47; their DC3/CV340/DC6/737s pulled out in 1979-80. 
Facilities and aircraft
Visalia Municipal Airport covers an area of acres (332 ha) at an elevation of 295 feet (90 m) above mean sea level. It has one asphalt paved runway designated 12/30 which measures 6,559 by 150 feet (1,999 x 46 m). It also has one helipad measuring 45 by 45 feet (14 x 14 m).
For the 12-month period ending April 28, 2011, the airport had 63,900 aircraft operations, an average of 175 per day: 92% general aviation, 4% scheduled commercial, 4% air taxi, and <1% military. At that time there were 134 aircraft based at this airport: 78% single-engine, 18% multi-engine, 4% jet, and 1% glider.
Airline and destinations
Scheduled passenger service:
|Great Lakes Airlines||Los Angeles, Merced|
Airline flights are subsidized by the Essential Air Service program. The airport has been served by Air Midwest, Scenic Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, Swift Aire Lines, United Airlines and Wings West Airlines. United Airlines flew Boeing 737-200 jets from Visalia to Los Angeles and San Francisco until 1979-80; the other carriers used smaller turboprop and piston-engine commuter aircraft.
- FAA Airport Master Record for VIS ( PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Effective August 25, 2011.
- "Primary, Non-primary Commercial Service, and General Aviation Airports (by State)" (PDF, 189 KB). CY 2010 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data. Federal Aviation Administration. October 4, 2011.
- "2011–2015 NPIAS Report, Appendix A" (PDF, 2.03 MB). 2011–2015 National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems. Federal Aviation Administration. October 4, 2010.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
- Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
- Maurer, Maurer (1969), Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II, Air Force Historical Studies Office, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. ISBN 0-89201-097-5.
- Shaw, Frederick J. (2004), Locating Air Force Base Sites History’s Legacy, Air Force History and Museums Program, United States Air Force, Washington DC, 2004.
- Essential Air Service documents (Docket OST-2004-19916) from the U.S. Department of Transportation:
- Order 2005-4-25: selecting Eagle Canyon Airlines, Inc., d/b/a Scenic Airlines, to provide essential air service at Visalia, California, at the annual subsidy rate of $450,000 per year for the first two years and $300,000 for the third year beginning with its inauguration of service.
- Order 2006-8-29: selecting Mesa Air Group Inc. d/b/a Air Midwest to provide subsidized essential air service (EAS) at Merced and Visalia, California, and Ely, Nevada, for two years, beginning when the carrier inaugurates service. Merced and Visalia will receive 23 weekly round trips to Las Vegas, operated on a Las Vegas - Merced - Visalia - Las Vegas or Las Vegas - Visalia - Merced - Las Vegas routing at an annual subsidy rate of $1,599,207. Ely will receive 6 nonstop round trips each week to Salt Lake City at an annual subsidy rate of $647,709. Air Midwest will operate as America West Express/US Airways Express and serve each community with 19-passenger Beech 1900-D aircraft.
- Order 2008-6-26: selecting Great Lakes Aviation, Ltd. to provide subsidized essential air service (EAS) at Merced and Visalia, California, and Ely, Nevada, for the two-year period beginning when the carrier inaugurates full EAS pursuant to this Order, at an annual subsidy of $4,900,401 with 19-seat Beech 1900D turboprop aircraft.
- Order 2010-9-13: re-selecting Great Lakes Aviation, Ltd., to provide subsidized essential air service (EAS) with 19-passenger Beechcraft-B-1900D aircraft at Merced and Visalia, California, and Ely, Nevada, for the two-year period from October 1, 2010, through September 31, 2012. The annual subsidy rates will be set at $1,961,174, $1,746,507, and $1,752,067 for Merced, Visalia and Ely, respectively, for a combined total of $5,459,748.
- Visalia Municipal Airport, official web site
- Great Lakes Aviation
- Aerial image as of May 1994 from USGS The National Map
- FAA Terminal Procedures for VIS, effective May 2, 2013
- Resources for this airport:
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