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San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport

San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport (IATA: SBPICAO: KSBPFAA LID: SBP), McChesney Field is a civil airport near San Luis Obispo, California. Three passenger airlines currently serve the airport operating flights to five airline hubs in the western United States: Denver (DEN), Los Angeles (LAX), Phoenix (PHX), San Francisco (SFO) and Seattle (SEA). The airport was established in 1939 and used by the U.S. military between 1939 and 1945.

San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport
McChesney Field
San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport - California.jpg
Airport type Public
Operator San Luis Obispo County
Location San Luis Obispo, California
Elevation AMSL 212 ft / 64.5 m
Coordinates 35°14′13″N 120°38′31″W / 35.23694°N 120.64194°W / 35.23694; -120.64194
KSBP is located in California
Direction Length Surface
ft m
11/29 6,100 1,859 Asphalt
7/25 2,500 762 Asphalt
Statistics (2014)
Airline Passengers 302,652
Total aircraft operations 67,772
Freight (in U.S. tons) 5,651
Based aircraft 305
Source: San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport Statistics Reports [1]



In 1933 Pacific Seaboard Air Lines single engine Bellanca CH-300s flew twice daily each way Los Angeles - Santa Barbara - Santa Maria - San Luis Obispo - Paso Robles - Monterey - Salinas - San Jose - San Francisco.[2] Pacific Seaboard later moved its operation to the eastern U.S., was renamed Chicago and Southern Air Lines, and became a large domestic and international airline that in 1953 was acquired by and merged into Delta Air Lines.[3][full citation needed]

Earl Thomson, along with his brothers-in-law, William "Chris" and David Hoover, talked county officials into leasing them the land for an airport. By April 1939 it opened with an 88-by-100-foot (27 by 30 m) hangar and dirt runways.[citation needed]

During World War II the federal government took over the airport: From 1938 until 1941, the U.S. Army Air Corps and the California National Guard used 218 acres as an aerial observation training center; In 1940 the War Department added hard surface runways and lights, barracks, hangars, and mechanic shops.[4] In 1940 and 1941, 183 private pilots and 20 advanced students were trained here though a federally sponsored Civilian Pilot Training Program for armed services fliers.[citation needed] In 1943, the Navy began using the airport as a training center for the Pacific Fleet.[4]

The federal government turned the airport back to the county in 1946.[citation needed] Southwest Airways started passenger flights with Douglas DC-3s that year.[citation needed]

Southwest's flights to San Luis Obispo ended in 1956 when the airline moved to Paso Robles Municipal Airport in northern San Luis Obispo County due to the 4000-ft runway at San Luis Obispo being too short for larger aircraft such as the Martin 4-0-4 and Fairchild F-27. Pacific Air Lines, Air West and Hughes Airwest, successors to Southwest Airways, listed San Luis Obispo in their timetables but actually served Paso Robles with F-27s until 1974.[5][6]

In 1947 county supervisors contracted for another hangar, ramp, and eventually an administration building. The supervisors named Chris Hoover full-time airport manager in 1953.[citation needed]

San Luis Obispo Airport had no scheduled airline service from 1956 until 1969 when Swift Aire Lines began scheduled flights with Piper Navajos. Swift Aire's headquarters were at San Luis Obispo; it eventually operated Fokker F27s bought new from Fokker as well as Nord 262s and de Havilland Herons.[citation needed]

In 1975, after ending service to Paso Robles the year before, Hughes Airwest was operating McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 jetliners into nearby Santa Maria Public Airport in order to serve the San Luis Obispo area; however, these nonstop jet flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco soon ended.[7]

After the 1981 demise of Swift Aire after a merger with Golden Gate Airlines, Wings West Airlines established its headquarters in San Luis Obispo and flew several turboprop types, as an independent commuter carrier and then as American Eagle on behalf of American Airlines via a code sharing agreement.[citation needed] Propjets flown by Wings West to San Luis Obispo included the British Aerospace BAe Jetstream 31 and Jetstream 32, the Beechcraft C99, the Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner (Metro III models) and the Saab 340.[citation needed] American Eagle later[when?] flew Embraer ERJ-140 jets to Los Angeles and San Jose.[citation needed]

In 1987 the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport was dedicated as McChesney Field, in honor of Leroy E. McChesney for his leadership and dedication to aviation. McChesney lived in the county since 1920 and had been a pilot since 1949. He was a longtime member of the California Aviation Council, a member of the California Aeronautics Board, and the Grand Marshal of the first Airport Day in 1984.[citation needed]

In 1988 a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) control tower opened and SkyWest Airlines, WestAir operating as United Express and Wings West (later merged into American Eagle) were flying commuter turboprops, WestAir operating the Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante followed by the British Aerospace BAe Jetstream 31.[citation needed]

Until September 1, 2008 SBP had Delta Connection nonstop (SkyWest Airlines) Canadair CRJ-200s to Salt Lake City. America West Express Canadair CRJ-200s operated by Mesa Airlines flew nonstop to Phoenix and Las Vegas; the Las Vegas flights were dropped.[citation needed]

Several other commuter airlines served San Luis Obispo[when?] with turboprop nonstops to Los Angeles (LAX) including Delta Connection service by SkyWest with Fairchild Swearingen Metroliners (Metro II and Metro III models) and Embraer EMB-120 Brasilias, Imperial Airlines with Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirantes, Mesa Airlines flying as United Express with Beechcraft 1900Cs and USAir Express operated by Trans States Airlines with British Aerospace BAe Jetstream 32s.[8] With the merger of America West Airlines and US Airways, the America West Express service between San Luis Obispo and Phoenix was transferred to US Airways Express[when?], which began operating as American Eagle after the American Airlines-US Airways merger.[citation needed]

Until 2008 the two airlines serving San Luis Obispo were United Express operated by SkyWest Airlines and American Eagle operated by Mesa Airlines. United Express Embraer EMB-120 Brasilias jets flew nonstop to Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco while American Eagle Canadair CRJ-900s flew[when?] nonstop to Phoenix with the CRJ-900 now being the largest aircraft on scheduled passenger flights to San Luis Obispo.[citation needed]

On August 27, 2008 US Airways Express flown by Mesa Airlines announced an expansion of service to San Luis Obispo. Beginning October 2, 2008 the Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet 900 (CRJ-900) replaced the smaller CRJ-200 on the Phoenix flights offering 36 more seats on these twice-daily flights.[9] US Airways later turned this service over to SkyWest Airlines which was flying the nonstop service to Phoenix with Canadair CRJ-200 regional jets with 50 coach seats as US Airways Express. SkyWest also currently[when?] operates Canadair CRJ-200 regional jets as United Express on all nonstop flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco.[citation needed]In November 2008, American Eagle stopped serving San Luis Obispo, and closed its maintenance and operational base on the airport. Allegiant Air attempted to serve the airport with daily nonstop flights to Las Vegas with McDonnell Douglas MD-80s, but the relatively short runway at SBP restricted their service. Allegiant's service later moved to Santa Maria Airport[10]

In January 2009 an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-400 arrived at SBP from Chico, California as a charter flight and was then the largest aircraft ever to land at San Luis. The flight carried 125 members of the San Francisco Symphony arriving to perform at Cal Poly's Performing Arts Center.[11] From April 1 to the 4th, 2009 Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-700 and Frontier Airlines Airbus A319 jetliners operated as charter flights arrived at San Luis Obispo County transporting Oregon National Guard military troops. The A319 was the largest aircraft to have ever landed at San Luis Obispo.[12] Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 jet aircraft have also recently landed at San Luis Obispo Airport as part of military charter operations.

Environmental contaminationEdit

In 2015, the airport was suspected as a possible source of trichloroethylene or TCE, which was found in nearby water wells. However, an investigation ordered by the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board[13] and conducted by a third-party engineering firm found that the airport was not the source of contamination. Water Board staff oversaw the county's field investigation activities. An estimated 48 residents had already filed claims against the county for negligence, even though the investigation concluded that the San Luis Obispo Regional Airport is not the source.


The airport covers 340 acres (138 ha) and has two runways:

  • 11/29: 6,100 x 150 ft (1,859 x 46 m) Asphalt
  • 7/25: 2,500 x 100 ft (762 x 30 m) Asphalt

A new passenger terminal is currently under construction. A ground-breaking ceremony was held on October 8, 2015, and opened on November 1, 2017.[14]

Airlines and destinationsEdit


Airlines Destinations
Alaska Airlines Seattle/Tacoma
American Airlines Phoenix–Sky Harbor
United Airlines Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco

On July 17, 2013, US Airways Express resumed Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet 900 (CRJ-900) service to San Luis Obispo Airport from Phoenix.[15] These flights are now operated as American Eagle service with all flights to Phoenix featuring Canadair CRJ-900 or Canadair CRJ-200 regional jets.[citation needed] As of February 11, 2016, American Eagle offers four daily flights to between San Luis Obispo Airport and Phoenix.[16]

On April 7, 2015, SkyWest Airlines operating as United Express began flying Canadair CRJ-200 regional jets on all flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco as replacement aircraft for the Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia turboprops formerly used for many years on these routes, so all scheduled passenger airline flights serving San Luis Obispo have since been operated with regional jets for the first time in the history of the airport.[17][full citation needed] The daily flights to Denver, as well as two of the flights to Los Angeles and one flight to San Francisco, will be operated with the Embraer 175 regional jets beginning April 2018.[18]

Alaska Airlines announced new nonstop service between Seattle (SEA) and San Luis Obispo which began on April 13, 2017 and was originally flown by SkyWest Airlines with Embraer 175 regional jets.[19] Alaska Airlines subsidiary Horizon Air took over this code share service on June 9, 2017.

Delta briefly operated a CRJ-200 between San Luis Obispo and Salt Lake City International Airport between 2007 and 2008, until shelving the flights due to the recession.[20].

Airport officials have expressed desire to secure flights to Portland, Oregon and Dallas, Texas, however these routes have not yet been announced.

Top destinationsEdit

Busiest domestic routes from SBP
(December 2016 - November 2017)
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Arizona 73,940 American
2 San Francisco, California 49,400 United
3 Los Angeles, California 47,540 United
4 Seattle/Tacoma, Washington 14,780 Alaska
5 Denver, Colorado 7,950 United

Annual trafficEdit

Annual passenger traffic at SBP
(enplaned + deplaned)
1998 through 2017[22]
Year Passengers Change
1998 298,279 -
1999 310,571   4.12%
2000 311,041   0.15%
2001 310,076   0.31%
2002 307,132   0.95%
2003 295,076   3.93%
2004 321,278   8.88%
2005 358,428   11.6%
2006 354,998   0.96%
2007 368,423   3.78%
2008 312,172   15.3%
2009 241,061   22.8%
2010 264,732   9.82%
2011 272,420   2.90%
2012 259,505   4.74%
2013 272,268   4.92%
2014 302,652   11.2%
2015 292,462   3.37%
2016 330,231   12.9%
2017 407,646   23.4%


Airline Destination
Ameriflight Oakland
FedEx Feeder

operated by West Air


Fixed-base operatorsEdit

  • ACI Jet[23] - ACI Jet offers a complete aircraft management program, which eliminates the frustrations and hassles involved with owning your own aircraft.
  • Air San Luis[24] - Air San Luis is a local Cessna parts dealer and maintenance shop.
  • SunWest Aviation[25] - SunWest was founded in 1987 as a family operation providing flight management services and has grown to become an executive air charter specialist, aircraft rental service, flight school, and maintenance shop.
  • Aerocademy[26] - Aerocademy was founded in 2007 to give future and current SLO area pilots a place to further their aviation education.


  • August 24, 1984 - Wings West Airlines / Flight 628 Midair collision. Shortly after departing the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport on a commuter flight to San Francisco International Airport, a Wings West Airlines twin-engine Beechcraft C99 (N6399U) collided head-on with a private Rockwell Commander 112TC aircraft (N112SM) that was descending for a landing at the same airport.[27]
  • January 8, 2009 - A Beechcraft Bonanza (BE36-A36) landed with its gear up causing runway 29/11 to be closed for about an hour. The pilot was the only person aboard and was not injured. The runway closure caused a SkyWest flight from San Francisco to divert to Southern California.[28]
  • March 17, 2009 - At 3:00pm a Piper Comanche (PA-24) missed the runway on landing, apparently catching a wind gust. The wind caused the aircraft to veer off the runway, down a grass side embankment and through a fence. The incident caused the runway to be closed for 10 to 15 minutes but no aircraft were delayed. The one occupant of the aircraft, the pilot, was not injured.[29]
  • June 24, 2013 - A Cessna Skymaster crashed into a Federal Express truck and a building about 1.5 miles northwest of the airport after takeoff, killing the pilot. The pilot had reportedly made a mayday call shortly before the crash.[30]
  • December 15, 2015 - A Cessna 210 landed with its gear up and caused the closure of runway 29/11. There were no injuries to any of the three passengers, and the runway was reopened the same day. It is unknown why the landing gear failed to extend.[31]

See alsoEdit


  This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

  1. ^ San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport, 2014 Statistics Reports
  2. ^ Summer 1933 Pacific Seaboard Air Lines timetable
  3. ^ Chicago and Southern (C&S) Air Lines
  4. ^ a b CHRIS MCGUINNESS (27 April 2016). "Military's use of SLO Airport may have played a role in groundwater contamination". NewsgroupTimes New Times Check |newsgroup= value (help). Retrieved 29 April 2016. 
  5. ^ April 2, 1968 Pacific Air Lines timetable & July 1, 1968 Air West timetable
  6. ^ July 1, 1972 Hughes Airwest timetable
  7. ^ Oct. 26, 1975 Hughes Airwest timetable
  8. ^ July 1, 1983 & April 2, 1995 Official Airline Guide
  9. ^ Seiler, Colin (2008-08-27). "U.S. Airways to expand service to San Luis Obispo's airport". KSBY 6 Action News. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  10. ^ Stark, Lisa (2008-09-12). "Struggles of a Small California Airport". Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  11. ^ Lee, Amber (2009-01-23). "A first for San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport as a Boeing 737 arrives". KSBY 6 Action News. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  13. ^ California, State of. "Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board". Retrieved 2016-10-12. 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^, Press Releases
  18. ^
  19. ^, Newsroom
  20. ^
  21. ^ "San Luis Obispo, CA: San Luis County Regional (SBP)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. November 2017. 
  22. ^ "California Air Traffic Statistical Reports". Retrieved November 21, 2017. 
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Beechcraft C99 N6399U San Luis Obispo, CA". Aviation Safety Network. 1985-08-29. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  28. ^ Myers, Justin (2009-01-08). "Crash-landing at San Luis Obispo airport closes runway". KSBY 6 Action News. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  29. ^ James, Jill (2009-03-17). "Plane misses the runway at San Luis Obispo's airport". KSBY 6 Action News. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  30. ^ Hickey, Julia (2013-06-26). "San Luis Obispo plane crash investigation continues". Retrieved 2013-07-16. 
  31. ^ Fountain, Matt (15 December 2015). "Plane lands at SLO airport without landing gear". The Tribune. Retrieved 17 December 2015. 

External linksEdit