ABOUT SBP AIRPORT

Our airport’s rich history

About SBP Airport: The San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport (SBP) began as one man’s dream. Earl Thomson, along with his brothers-in-law, William “Chris” and David Hoover, talked county officials into leasing them the land. In April 1939, the airport opened with a single 88-by-100 foot hangar and dirt runways.

Hard surface runways and lights were installed by the War Department in 1940. In 1940 and 1941, 183 private pilots and 20 advanced students were trained here through a federally sponsored Civilian Pilot Training Program for armed services fliers.

The federal government took over the airport during World War II, turning it back to the county in 1946. 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. Additionally, Southwest Airways inaugurated a passenger and airline service that year lasting till 1955. In 1955 they replaced their DC-3s with Martin 404s, which were too large for the 4,000 foot runway. At this point the airline moved to Paso Robles, and air service was canceled until 1969 when Swift Aire Lines started passenger service.

The San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport was dedicated as McChesney Field in 1987, in honor of Leroy E. McChesney for his leadership and dedication to aviation. Mr. McChesney resided 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 other aviation organizations. Mr. McChesney was the Grand Marshal of the first Airport Day in 1984.

Airport facilities now include a terminal building, restaurant, hangars, and numerous other airplane related businesses. In 1988, an air traffic control tower was opened by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). By this time SBP had scheduled service from Wings West, Skywest, WestAir, and later American Eagle. Passenger service from San Luis Obispo was here to stay. Service today is provided by United Airlines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines through their respective regional partners.

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