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El Toro Ideas Other Than Airport Needed

March 20, 1994

* What if the Orange County Board of Supervisors took a fresh look at the conversion of the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station? City governments are obviously split over its future. Citizens are lining up on each side of the issue as if there were no alternatives between an international airport or residential/commercial use of the site. Business leaders are threatening to float an initiative. It's time for the board to come up with a shopping list of alternatives so that the issue is not permanently polarized.

What if all small propeller-driven aircraft were moved out of John Wayne Airport and moved to one of the shorter runways at El Toro? The mixture of small airplanes making their base turn into the final approach of 757s at JWA is an explosive mixture waiting for a match. The Cerritos disaster and the recent crash at the approach to John Wayne Airport are ample proof that a major disaster is awaiting us.

What if the money spent to build a new Riley Terminal and all the other related airport support features at El Toro was spent to build a rapid rail system? This high-speed system could connect John Wayne to an El Toro transportation facility, and then run to George or Norton AFB where a commercial airport is desired. The Santa Ana River is a possible route for part of this rail line, as are other existing rights of way.

What if the runway at JWA was extended like LAX so that all of the existing facilities of JWA could be used for an international airport? Does it really make sense to re-create all of them seven miles away at El Toro?

What if 20 years after the main runway at El Toro were destroyed, a quiet hypersonic aircraft was developed? How stupid would we feel?

What if we took an idea from Monaco or Long Beach, and ran a profitable race car event once a year at a course designed around the taxiways and runways of El Toro?

What if the federal government exercises its right to replace the Marine station with another government agency because we were not mature enough or unselfish enough to do our best for the Orange County of the future?

SCOTT DENNISON

San Juan Capistrano

* It is distressing to see how Orange County is being split between the North County cities with their Lincoln (Club) financial empire and the South County cities that are contiguous to and will be impacted by the El Toro closure, touted for a new commercial airport. El Toro is just (seven) miles from John Wayne Airport, which is serving the area adequately.

Practical and technical feasibility is being swept under the rug by the subjective and highly emotional pie-in-the-sky allegations of improved lifestyle. For whom? Certainly not the nearby residents who will be faced with the thunderous roar of super-cargo and passenger planes at all hours of the day and night.

Now these high-powered and richly financed commercial airport proponents are trying to take the matter out of the hands of the established and well-represented study commission by their petition drive. Don't be misled by their devious petition drive.

DICK OSTERLIND

Laguna Hills

* The runaways at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station are not suitable for commercial or cargo aircraft, but this fact seems to have fallen on the deaf ears of the Lincoln Club and the North County cities. Neither the military nor most of the airlines can visualize such a conversion. They agree with Laguna Beach resident Charles J. Quilter II, a captain for a major airline and a veteran military flier for the past 33 years. Having thoroughly researched the field with which he is familiar, he concludes as follows:

"A key factor concerning El Toro's use as a commercial airport involves significant differences in takeoff procedures between airliners and tactical military jets.

At El Toro, the main takeoff runways slope uphill and point to rising terrain, frequently accompanied by an unacceptable tail wind. The high performance of modern jets helps to overcome these limitations. This is not the case with airline transports who operate under civil regulations which demand certain minimum performances. One of these regulations requires airliners to be able to climb out safely with an engine failure just before liftoff. It follows then that transports must be lightly loaded. To accomplish this, either fuel loads or passenger loads must be sacrificed. A great way to begin an international flight!

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