Catalina Island Conservancy to celebrate the grand reopening of the Airport in the Sky on May 3
18 Apr 2019

Please join 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and the Catalina Island Conservancy, military leaders and elected officials on May 3 to celebrate the landing of the first air plane – a 1947 DC-3 originally owned by Philip K. Wrigley – on the Airport in the Sky’s main runway that Marines and Navy Seabees replaced as a training exercise to prepare for missions on islands and other remote destinations. In addition to the fist landing, this private event will include opportunities for interviews with military and civilian leaders from 3rd MAW, the Conservancy and local government.

As part of the Department of Defense’s Innovative Readiness Training Program, a total of nearly 200 Marines and Seabees were deployed to Catalina Island over a three-month period to replace the main runway’s asphalt with concrete for training. The project provided service members with valuable expeditionary runway construction and repair training while benefiting the community of Catalina by ensuring the Island’s only airport remains open to the public. Participating units included the Camp Pendleton-based I Marine Expeditionary Force and MCAS Miramar’s 3rd MAW and Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 373.

Media personnel will need to travel to Avalon on Catalina Island to participate in the Ribbon Cutting and Grand Reopening. They may travel via boat on the Catalina Express, which departs Long Beach, San Pedro or Dana Point to Avalon. Flights are available via IEX Helicopters from Long Beach to Avalon. The Conservancy will provide transportation from the boat and helicopter landings to the airport. More details are included below.

Who: Military and elected officials including: leadership from the DOD’s IRT Program, commanders and other leaders from of the Marine and Navy units involved in the project, and Conservancy leaders and board members.

When:  The “first plane” is scheduled to land at noon, weather permitting, May 3. Other planes are expected to land afterward, with some of the pilots available for interviews.

Where:  The Airport in the Sky, which is about 45 minutes from Avalon. The Conservancy will provide transportation from Avalon to the airport and from the airport to Avalon.

Details:  Space is limited, so please RSVP by May 1. Media are responsible for their own transportation to the Island and, if they choose to stay overnight, their own accommodations in Avalon. Dress comfortably, with hiking boots or other comfortable walking shoes, wear long pants or jeans and bring layers because the temperatures vary greatly on Catalina.

Getting there: If traveling by boat, please take the 9:50 a.m. Catalina Express from Long Beach to Avalon on May 3 (or arrive the night before and stay overnight). The Conservancy will meet those boats to take media to the airport.

For those traveling by helicopter, please plan to arrive around 10:50 a.m. to coincide with those arriving by boat. The Conservancy will provide transportation from the Avalon heliport to the airport. Travel time from Avalon to the airport is about 45 minutes.

Please book your return trips in advance. The Conservancy can return media in time to catch the 3:50 p.m. departure from Avalon on May 3. Please plan helicopter returns around the same time. Travel time from the airport to Avalon is about 45 minutes.

RSVP via email by 12:00 p.m. Wednesday, May 1 by contacting 3rd MAW CommStrat at and the Conservancy at


3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Communication Strategy & Operations

3rd Marine Aircraft Wing