Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Monday, March 18 @ 12:12 p.m.

Advanced Air Takes Off To Applause; Del Norte's New Carrier Begins Flights to Oakland, SoCal

Passengers board Advanced Air's inaugural flight between Crescent City and Hawthorne on Sunday. | Jessica C. Andrews

Though she’s no stranger to planes — her dad, Levi Stockton, is Advanced Air’s president — 7-year-old Dylan kept asking if it was “water time.”

Accompanied by Barbara Hunt, the airline’s vice president of business operations, the little girl was glued to the window as firefighters sent an arc of water over the carrier’s first arrival to Del Norte County from Oakland.

“We’ve really enjoyed our visit,” Hunt told the Wild Rivers Outpost of their weekend in Crescent City. “We stayed right on the water [at] White Rock Resort and took a small hike to the Grove of Titans and ate at the Hiouchi Cafe.”

Advanced Air’s Dornier328Jet taxied up to the terminal under blue skies Sunday, unloaded its passengers and prepared for takeoff to Hawthorne. The airline’s director of operations, Michael Wootton was in the pilot’s seat for both jaunts, and with 29 to 30 passengers, the plane was expected to be full.

Levi Stockton, who accompanied local media and dignitaries on both the outgoing and return flights between the North Coast and Los Angeles areas said he became acquainted to Del Norte County during a road trip with his family last summer.

He was on his third visit to Del Norte since the Border Coast Regional Airport Authority considered Advanced Air to be the successor to Smyrna, Tenn.-based Contour.

Stockton said Crescent City was one of only a handful of communities whose airports operate under an Essential Air Service contract. Its easy access to Advanced Air’s home base at the Hawthorne Municipal Airport will allow the airline to switch planes in case of an emergency, Stockton said. Advanced Air holds the master lease at the Hawthorne airport, which includes more than 200,000 square feet of hanger space.

The Hawthorne Municipal Airport is also about three miles from Los Angeles International Airport, and Advanced Air offers direct shuttles for those with connecting flights.

“It’s about a 13-minute drive, though over Thanksgiving weekend we’ll allow for more time,” Stockton said. “Traffic is never too bad.”

While Advanced Air’s first flights on Sunday were cause for celebration to locals who applauded the carrier’s link between Crescent City and Los Angeles, Joey Gerardi was more interested in the plane itself.

Gerardi, a New York-based writer with who oversees the YouTube Channel Gerardi Aviation, flew between Oakland and Crescent City before transitioning to the flight to Hawthorne. According to him, the Hawthorne to Crescent City flight is the longest route offered on a Dornier328 Jet.

“That’s what’s going to draw av- geeks,” he told the Outpost. “There are only two airlines in the country that operate it. It’s just a unique aircraft.”

Gerardi also focuses much of his writing on communities that operate under U.S. Department of Transportation EAS contracts, though as, he points out, the Del Norte County Regional Airport operates under the Alternate Essential Air Service category.

Advanced Air's Dornier328 Jet flies over mouth of the Klamath River with Mt. Shasta dominating the background. | Photo by Joey Gerardi

“These AEAS contracts work in virtually the same way as typical EAS, with the only difference being that in AEAS, the community is awarded the grant and they pay the carrier for the air service directly instead of everything having to go through the government for approval,” Gerardi wrote in a Jan. 5 article about the Border Coast Regional Airport Authority’s new contract with Advanced Air.

With Crescent City added to its routes, Advanced Air serves two of California's three EAS communities, Gerardi wrote.

The Del Norte County Regional Airport was the 53rd EAS airport he’s flown into, he told the Outpost.

“It’s an untapped market for aviation enthusiasts,” he said. “I love going to communities like this even if it’s for only 40 minutes and writing about them.”

Though Gerardi pointed out that EAS serves remote airports, Cindy Vosburg, executive director for the Crescent City-Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce, said Advanced Air’s flights to and from Hawthorne will make it easier for Southern Californian tourists to visit the North Coast and experience the redwoods.

“We get phone calls from people trying to figure out how to get here and we get quite a few calls from Southern California,” she said. “In the past we had to tell them that they would take another flight from where ever they are to Oakland and then fly from Oakland to Crescent City.”

Vosburg, who was on that first flight from Del Norte to Los Angeles and back, said she appreciated how quiet the jet was. She also noted that it was flying low enough for her to make out California’s Central Valley and the Sierras and, further north, Mt. Shasta punctuated the horizon.

“You could even see Yosemite for a brief moment,” she said.

Advanced Air will officially introduce itself to the community at 4:30 p.m. this afternoon at the Del Norte County Regional Airport. The airline will offer daily flights between Crescent City and Oakland and twice weekly flights to Hawthorne on Thursdays and Sundays.


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