Change is coming to the Lone Pine Airport – the kind of change that local officials hope will help aviators identify the region they are in and the activities that are available when they fly into Lone Pine.
The Lone Pine Airport will be renamed the Lone Pine-Death Valley Airport. Local officials and a group of Lone Pine residents said Tuesday the new name will help tourists, especially foreign tourists, identify Lone Pine as a gateway to Death Valley.
Interim Inyo County Public Works Director Doug Wilson, who opened the discussion on the name change, said the Board of Supervisors considered the idea of a new name several years ago and ultimately decided against it.
Wilson said the latest request has come from the Lone Pine Airport Advisory Committee, which felt that using the name of a nearby, world-famous national park would help draw more visitors.
Wilson pointed out that Mono County made a similar move several years ago, renaming the Mammoth Airport the Mammoth-Yosemite Airport.
“It is common for small airports in areas of National Parks to affiliate with that name,” Lone Pine resident Jacque Hickman said. “It is vital to the flying community to know what options are out there.”
Fifth District Supervisor Matt Kingsley, who’s district includes Lone Pine, agreed. “Yosemite has three airports associated with it with Yosemite as part of their names,” Kingsley said. “And we’re not losing our identity as Lone Pine.”
Kingsley also said that the Bishop Airport changed its name to the Eastern Sierra Regional Airport several years ago in an effort to associate itself with all Inyo County areas. However, in so doing, the airport lost its “identity” as Bishop’s landing strip.
Kingsley also pointed out that the requested name change is coming from the Southern Inyo Airport Advisory Committee. “It’s important that, if we are going to have these committees … that we give credence to what they bring to us.”
Fourth District Supervisor Mark Tillemans asked if Death Valley National Park had been brought in on the discussion, and if park officials had any opinion about the change.
“I haven’t discussed it with them, but I don’t think it’s an issue,” Kingsley said. “This doesn’t stop any other airport from associating with Death Valley.”
First District Supervisor Linda Arcularius said she was “encouraged” to see that the Advisory Committee wanted to keep Lone Pine in the airports name, but added that there is a cost associated with the change. She also asked if it would be appropriate to include Mt. Whitney in the name of the airport.
Lone Pine resident and Airport Advisory Committee member Lynne Bunn said that was considered, “but the name would be too wordy and we didn’t want to take Lone Pine out of the mix to add Mt. Whitney.”
When Arcularius asked what the cost for the name change would be, Hickman, who operates the airport as a county-contracted concessionaire, said that she would simply add to current signage at the airport to include Death Valley in the name.
Some changes will also have to be made online, to ensure that anyone who Google searches the airport will see that Lone Pine’s airport is also a gateway to Death Valley.
The board unanimously approved the request.