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Military-Civilian Use of Air Station

February 21, 1988

Irv Pickler's commentary, (Feb. 7) misses the mark when he supports the proposed study on joint military-civilian use of Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro.

He states that traffic in the area would decrease, because "8 to 10 million air passengers from south Orange County would not need to drive past El Toro on their way to LAX." Joint use was supposed to relieve John Wayne, not Los Angeles International Airport. If long-haul flights now using LAX were diverted to El Toro, millions of passengers would be drawn deep into Orange County from the north, increasing congestion on already-choked freeways and surface streets.

The real benefit, as Pickler admits, would be to the new Spectrum Project and other industrial developments, not the residents of the south county.

Pickler also claims that servicing those 8 million to 10 million passengers would not cause additional noise problems at El Toro. Civilian aircraft are quieter than high-performance military jets, but the total number of flights would increase dramatically. If civilian flights start, the inevitable next step is a push to eliminate those noisy military training operations.

It's easy to forget that the men practicing carrier landings at El Toro may be doing the same job tomorrow in the Persian Gulf. In an era of reduced military budgets, we need to preserve training assets, not add public pressure to eliminate them.

Scarce federal funds would be better spent identifying and developing a remote site, not surrounded by homes, for the additional airport that Orange County so badly needs, rather than on a scheme to trade defense facilities for the benefit of private business interests.


El Toro

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