Catalina Island News

Airshow Celebrates 100 Years of Aviation on Catalina Island

Catalina Island Air Show

The first Catalina Island Air Show and Festival, celebrating a century of aviation on the island, will be held just outside the breakwater of Avalon Bay September 29 and 30. This is the only air show held over water in southern California.

“Avalon Bay and Avalon Canyon form a natural amphitheater, creating an excellent spectator location from its hotels, beaches, balconies and boats,” said the show’s coordinator Dan Teckenoff. “Unlike other air shows located on tarmac, Avalon hosts a variety of recreational activities, shopping and restaurants.” We are looking to create a 4th of July festive weekend event that brings our second-home owners, day and weekend visitors back to the island on an annual basis in late September.”

“We also wanted to focus on the concentration of private pilots in southern California. This demographic has never before been targeted. The closest thing that comes to that effort was the Conservancy’s, 50th Anniversary of the Airport in 2009 which brought hundreds of pilots to the Airport in the Sky,” said Teckenoff. From those beginnings the Catalina Aero Club was founded. It now boasts over 500 members that enjoy unlimited landings at the airport and reduced transportation fees into town. “We wanted to create something for them in town and turn the famed “$100 hamburger “at the airport into the $1000 weekend in Avalon.”

Pilots, along with boaters, will form our primary target audience,” said Teckenoff. “It has long been said that our harbor is our largest hotel. According to Kate Olsen of the Harbor Department, the harbor is able to moor up to 520 yachts between Hamilton Cove and the harbor. Many people purchase their yachts with Catalina as their primary destination. What would be better than sitting on your boat viewing an air show off the breakwater of Avalon?”

The theme this year is, “100 years of aviation history on Catalina island”, said Teckenoff. A century ago this year aviation legend Glenn L. Martin took off from the waters off Newport Beach and landed in Avalon Bay in a box kite-like aircraft. The flight was not only the first flight to Catalina Island, but was also the longest over-water flight in world history and the first time that an aircraft had taken off from water and landed on water on the same flight.

Catalina is rich in aviation history. Regular seaplanes service to the Island soon followed Martin as early as 1919 with Chaplin Airlines. In 1948, airline service began with United Airlines at the Airport in the Sky. Over the years, tens-of-thousands of people have made the flight by seaplane or aircraft. There have been numerous books and videos describing the magic of aircraft travel to Catalina Island.

The air show will utilize military, vintage, and specialty aircraft and will entertain spectators of all ages on September 29. Static displays at the Airport in the Sky, the following day, will allow visitors the opportunity to visually inspect the variety of aircraft flown and enjoy an additional event.

“We are proud to have the endorsements of the City of Avalon, the Catalina Chamber of Commerce and the Catalina Island Conservancy,” said Teckenoff. “After we received the FAA approval for the show from the Flight Standards District Office we contacted both the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Navy and received their sanctions as well for the event. We will now contact Camp Pendleton and Miramar to coordinate formation flyovers and helicopter demonstrations that would be available for the event. We have recently seen a V-22 Osprey conducting training missions around the island and that too is also on our wish list.”

During the street fair, booths with an aeronautic theme will line Crescent Avenue. The Catalina Island Conservancy will also host the half-marathon a 5K earlier that day with a run through the hills of Avalon. The Lion’s Club will have their beer garden to add to the dynamic of the weekend.

This is a spectator event with no gate, so we are relying of the business community and private donations to help pay for the costs involved with the air show,” said Teckenoff. “Through their generous sponsorships and contributions the event will bring much needed revenues to the community and the City of Avalon.

Renowned Catalina artist, Gary Miltimore, created the graphics that demonstrates exactly what is going to happen during the show. He has a fabulous collection of both Catalina aviation and maritime art and will be showing at the US Bank during the month of July.

VIP viewing of the event will be available throughout the town for a donation. There will also be a dance concert Saturday evening open to the public. With limited accommodations on the Island for the Air Show reservations should be made early through the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce or Catalina Island Vacation Rentals.

For more information, call 310-510-2529 ext. 818.