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Mammoth Lakes goes 'Tits Up'

Forget to clear construction with FAA, make a deal with a contractor, get sued, lose and file for bankruptcy.....

Mammoth Lakes, famous California ski town, files for bankruptcy
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Old 07-02-2012, 10:44 PM
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they were told not to build that effing airport...
Old 07-03-2012, 11:55 AM
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This story hits a bit close to home for me - back in my cargo flying days, I flew a route into KMMH every single day for about six months. That airport is SCARY to go in/out of - it has just about every hazard to aircraft imaginable - high density altitude, relatively short/narrow runway ("short" due to the altitude), extreme crosswinds (runway is 9/27 and I've seen it regularly blowing 180@20-30), terrain all over the place, icing, you name it. It certainly turned me from a "know-it-all" flight instructor to an eating-humble-pie newly-minted Part 135 cargo pilot to a brass-balls cargo rat. It was a fantastic learning experience.

For a real thrill, try flying out of there at night with no moon under a high overcast (black on black - and there's that big mesa just north of the runway that's constantly on your mind as you climb out at about 300 fpm due to the altitude...)

The people that work the FBO up there are downright amazing and were always nothing but nice to me. I know that at least one major airline (IIRC it was United) looked at bringing 737s into there including an exploratory flight but basically said "hell with this"after that and they got done looking at it more closely. Probably smart - the place is a very serious accident waiting to happen and had nothing for an instrument approach (other than GPS) when I was there - maybe that's changed now. If an airline were serious, they'd be far smarter to fly into KBIH just a few miles down the road and then running shuttles or letting people rent cars from there to the resorts. KBIH never gets socked in - KMMH gets it very regularly - and bad.

Very interesting story. Very sad for the town - I really liked spending time up there and would love to either retire there someday or perhaps buy a vacation home at some point. Great people up there (the year-round types, not the stupid tourists). I got to meet plenty of locals during my days up there since I had little to do except hang around all day long until the evening flight home.

Bummer. It's an interesting place.
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Old 07-03-2012, 12:26 PM
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Could never understand why there are two regional airports so close to each other....
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Old 07-03-2012, 12:36 PM
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follow the money...
Old 07-03-2012, 01:20 PM
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Did Murtha ask for it?
Old 07-03-2012, 01:56 PM
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Is this the tiny airport right next to the hwy. going into Mammoth? I can't believe that airport is economically viable. Why not expand Bishop instead? I rode my motorcycle up to Mammoth through Death Valley and got to Lone Pine as it was getting dusk. Geezus, I could feel the temp dropping every few miles until I was frozen at my destination.
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Old 07-03-2012, 02:08 PM
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if they could do it, they'd build that airport right on top of the town

they want it as close as possible to the resort complex (big Calif. real estate money)
Old 07-03-2012, 04:09 PM
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I guess rich folk don't do buses....
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Old 07-03-2012, 04:11 PM
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I understand that the Mammoth airport is dangerous primarily because it is almost 9000 feet high. Friends, some time ago, had a scary experience there. They were invited by a hobby pilot to a ski trip in with small airplane. On departure the pilot forgot to adjust the engine to high altitue settings. They got off the ground but barely missed the mountains.
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Old 07-03-2012, 04:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by porwolf View Post
I understand that the Mammoth airport is dangerous primarily because it is almost 9000 feet high. Friends, some time ago, had a scary experience there. They were invited by a hobby pilot to a ski trip in with small airplane. On departure the pilot forgot to adjust the engine to high altitue settings. They got off the ground but barely missed the mountains.
Well it's 7000 ft and I don't want to fly with that guy.
Old 07-03-2012, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by BeyGon View Post
Well it's 7000 ft and I don't want to fly with that guy.
Well that airport, of course, is an attraction to all the weekend pilots who want to show off that they can go skiing by plane.
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Old 07-03-2012, 07:21 PM
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I think there's more to this than just the above issue. I'm one of those "weekend pilots", though anybody who's anybody, flies in during the week to ski and gets out by Friday evening.

This project has been going on for years and years. We always ask about it at the FBO. They've had a nice model in the office for years, showing what was going to be done. In the past, the project was stalled due to environmental issues. There are some sensitive areas around the airport and it's already tedious to leave if taking off on 27, straight out on 09 is easy.

The town is also fighting the DWP over water rights and is about to lose that as well. That may have been the final nail in the coffin to declare BK. The ski area took a big hit as well this year from the lack of snow.

MMH is a difficult airport to depart and to fly around. I saw a guy die in a plane crash many years ago, it was an airshow, so not typical, but he forgot to adjust for altitude and when he pulled out o the loop, he hit the ground. I also heard and then saw the aftermath of another crash a few years back. It was last day for us and mid afternoon, on a chair, I heard a plane take off to the West, heard the echoes and then nothing. The pilot had a pretty full plane (private), took o too steep, stalled, porpoised the plane trying to recover and went nose in. Last incident was in windy conditions. Guy in a wood and fabric plane was trying to depart to the West, needed to go to San Fran. He's picking up speed on the runway, then a gust of wind lifts his left wing, right hits the ground and spins him 20* to his right. He's trying to regain control (on the ground), leaves the runway, crosses the grass, then the taxiway and heads straight for us and our plane. We were loading up and watching him. Got it under control about 100' away from us. Tore the fabric on the right tip, but he decided to go for it and took off into the setting sun.

There are commercial flights in MM these days, both turbo prop and commuter jets.

Bishop has been talked about for years, but it's too far. There also has to be bus transportation to and from Bishop. It already is, realistically a 1/2 hour drive from the driveway of MMH to the slopes.

Mammoth will survive this.
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Last edited by slodave; 07-04-2012 at 01:17 AM.. Reason: 1.2 = 1/2
Old 07-03-2012, 10:09 PM
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Slowdave, I appreciated reading you take on the Mammoth airport. It is always good to hear from somebody who knows what he is talking about. Good for you! I do hope you can enjoy many more safe flights to Mammoth. I remember the place well when I spent many weekends and longer vacations there. It has always been my favorite American ski destination and the expansive and wide open ski area reminded me a lot of Switzerland.
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Old 07-03-2012, 11:41 PM
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I have to say, I never quite understood what was trying to be done at the airport. Except for the expansion of the runway to accommodate larger aircraft and more hanger space, the idea of a hotel/spa/shopping village, I could not understand. Okay, there are natural hot springs (spas) near that have been tradition to visit for years, but you always end up in Mammoth village.

As a side, it was decided to close June Mountain for the summer and following ski season. No profits in 26 years. June is a bit of its own entity, but contributes to what is going on.
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Old 07-04-2012, 01:26 AM
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