Runway repairs–before and after

The airport resealing work was officially completed at the end of July. But we are still awaiting formal approval of the work by CalTrans to indicate that the owner met the terms of the mandated repair order. The inspector who issued the letter last year no longer works at CalTrans. An interim inspector informed us that the airport’s status will be reviewed during its annual inspection this month. 

Before the prep work began we were in contact with the interim inspector to ask many questions about the repairs and the runway markings to ensure that we were doing it all according to FAA standards. 

Here are some before and after photos to show the improvements.



Here you can see yellow markings and damaged aspalt on the runway.


Shallow spots required only oil and sand while deeper holes needed to be filled with gravel first. Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Shallow spots required only oil and sand while deeper holes needed to be filled with gravel first. Tuesday, July 15, 2014



You can see that the shallow and damaged areas of the runway have been filled in and resealed, resulting in a smooth and debris-free surface.


Runway markings were brought up to FAA standards for our type of airport with all white paint.

We will post an update again when we have the results of this year’s annual inspection. Until then, fly safe everyone!

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Funding Update: Mind the Gap

We are all breathing a sigh of relief knowing that we were successful in getting the mandated runway work done ahead of schedule.

Mind the funding gap

But we still have a long way to go: there is an outstanding funding gap to pay for the slurry contractor. The good news, however, is that we secured a contract that was less than half of what we had been planning. Our plan was to raise funds for the worst case scenario–paying for full mobilization of equipment and crew from a “big city” slurry company to rural Gualala. According to the estimates we received last summer to inform our fundraising plans, that cost was close to $20,000. The original fundraising goal was $60,000.

The best case scenario was to “piggy back” on another local job to reduce the mobilization fee. And that’s exactly what we were able to do!

Mendocino County had their road crews doing prep work in Gualala in early June. A few phone calls to the county project manager led us to the contractor that had won the bid for the road work, Telfer Oil out of Windsor. Many calls were made and after a few weeks we were finally able to have someone from the company look at the airport and provide an estimate. We were all very pleased with the proposed cost!

The only issue was that by “piggy backing” on another local project, we had to commit to the contractor’s schedule. We really had to organize ourselves quickly to do all the necessary prep work of filling potholes, removing weeds, tagging the existing runway markings with duplex nails that could be located post-slurry with a metal detector, sweeping the asphalt, and much more.

And then the contractor informed us that the crew would actually be arriving three days sooner than expected! All of a sudden John Bower had to commit his entire work crew (plus Julie who normally has an office job!) to the airport prep work. It was a crazy week leading up to the slurry job on Thursday, July 17, 2014. But we got it all done. John worked from sun up to sun down, making for some very long, very tiring summer days.

Slurry funding status

The drastically reduced contract cost (even with the hired crew rather than volunteer help to do the prep work) was worth it, even though ORAA did not yet have all the funds. We paid the contractor this week, in full, with a small loan to cover the gap.

We are asking you to please consider donating to help ORAA realize its slurry funding goal.


Prep and finish work costs

A lot of prep work was required before we could even consider having the slurry seal material applied to the runway. The potholes, shallow spots, and alligatoring had to be addressed so that the slurry mix would adhere to the asphalt surface for a long-term, durable result. In the days after the slurry sealing, big rig trucks were rolled over every inch of the surface to compact the slurry-sand mixture to encourage the bond to develop with the underlying surface.

We had always planned on asking for volunteer assistance for the prep work, but the shortened timeline meant that most people already had firm plans in place and were not available. Gualala may be a small place, but our coastal communities are jam packed with events and activities every week (so many reasons to fly in for a visit!). So the decision was made to hire John’s construction crew to do most of the work. John Bower’s office worked to carefully track all costs for the runway job.

We did have some amazing volunteers throughout the week and they all deserve a big THANK YOU because they worked really hard toward the airport goal. Wes Daniels, Ken Salva, Eric Kritz, Mike and Beth Roland, and Naomi Schwartz, we could not have done this without you!

Here is the prep/finish work cost breakdown:

Paid labor = $5,700

Materials = $1725

Equipment = $1875

Total = $9,300

Prepwork_funds_7.25.2014ORAA will gladly accept any donations toward the prep/finish work costs. Remember that this work was a joint effort between the Bower family and the aviation community in order to keep Ocean Ridge Airport open to you, the public.

The Bowers and ORAA members truly appreciate your generosity and support with this effort. We look forward to improving all aspects of the airport for your flying pleasure in the years to come.

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NOTAM extended for centerline markings

The NOTAM was extended once again to allow us to finalize the runway centerlines. Yesterday we had some late morning rain which prevented us from painting.

NOTAM extension_2

As always, we appreciate your patience as we finish this project!

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NOTAM extension

We continued the work on the runway through Saturday. The only thing remaining before we can officially re-open are the white centerlines on the runway.

The original NOTAM has been extended through today. We will update when the runway is open again.

NOTAM extension

Thank you for your patience!

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Runway prep work is done

The airport has been a busy place since Friday. That afternoon and every day since we have been preparing the runway for the slurry job, which starts tomorrow. John Bower has worked especially hard and very long days to get as much done as possible.

We had to make sure the runway and all other asphalt surfaces were clear of weeds, loose debris, and dust. Just running the sweeper across all surfaces took many, many hours. Then all of the potholes and shallow spots on the runway were filled to be flush with the surrounding areas. Bigrig trucks were driven back and forth across every filled spot to compact the material. Then John ran the sweeper across all the surfaces a second time to remove all excess fill material. It was quite a task!

Our airport was lucky to have three generous volunteers help out with the prep work this week. On Tuesday ORAA member Naomi painted closure signs to position at each driveway and she brought us a picnic lunch donated by Trinks Cafe. She even baked us a cherry pie for dessert! Eric, another ORAA member, worked really hard on Tuesday. He threw gravel and sand with the rest of the crew for hours on end. Today we had volunteer Ken pick up where Eric left off. We are so grateful for all this help. Thank you, volunteers!

As we were wrapping up the pothole work and getting ready for the final sweeping, we saw all the slurry contractor’s trucks roll into the airport. It looks like everything is all set for the resealing work tomorrow!

Remember that the airport is officially closed to all traffic (vehicular and aircraft) on Thursday, July 17 for the asphalt work. Cars are welcome back on Friday but the runway will remain closed until we have applied the required runway markings. Our goal is to paint Friday and Saturday.

A NOTAM has been posted.


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Airport slurry resealing scheduled!

We have REALLY good news!

The slurry resealing is scheduled for Thursday, July 17…yes, that’s next week! It was originally planned for later in the month but the contractor asked to move it forward and will be giving us a small discount for doing so.

We received a bid from a slurry contractor that will be doing another job in our area at the end of this month. There was a narrow window of time to secure the price and the contractor could only schedule the work if we signed the contract. The price is really attractive because we would be able to save a considerable amount on mobilization costs by scheduling when the contractor would already be in the area. This is exactly what we’ve been hoping to be able to do.

Based on our projections of fundraising efforts, we believe that we can get the remaining money donated in time to accept this estimate. So we went ahead and signed the contract this week.

We need another $8,000 to close the funding gap. Now is the time to make that donation if you have not already done so.

There are a variety of ways to donate to the runway project. Please visit to select the one that works best for you. Remember that purchasing annual tie down packages also contributes to this fund.

A NOTAM will be posted for the airport closure for the work next week.

As always, we at ORAA appreciate your support with this effort and look forward to providing you with a pleasant airport experience here on the coast.

Excitedly, Julie

ORAA members:

David Bower

John Bower

Naomi Schwartz

Eric Kritz

Mitch Kirby

Sheralyn Kirby

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Last day for Small Knot campaign!

The Small Knot fundraising campaign is coming to a close. It was open for the last 44 days…where has the time gone?

So far we have had 42 generous donors giving a total of $6,250. That’s only 13% of the goal but it is still impressive.

Small knot_last day

If you haven’t already invested in the airport please consider doing so now. This is the last chance to donate through Small Knot and get one of the amazing thank you gift packages available.  These gifts will not be available to donors after the close of the Small Knot campaign.


If you’ve never had a chance to really explore Gualala, here’s your chance. Many of the investor rewards include free stays at Seacliff on the Bluff, a downtown motel with ocean and river views.  Wouldn’t it be great to wake up in a room like this knowing that you also helped save our airport?

Seacliff room

Check out all of the rewards here:

Small knot_rewards


Go to Small Knot to donate now!

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Crowdsource Fundraising Campaign!

Hello Friends of Ocean Ridge Airport,

We are proud (and relieved) to announce that our online crowdsource fundraising campaign has been launched!

Small Knot campaign site

Small Knot campaign site

Getting this campaign took months of planning, from requesting donations of goods and services from local vendors to organizing the reward packages to building the site.

You can find the campaign here:

Please share this with your friends, pilots or not–the reward packages are great for anyone!

Everyone at ORAA appreciates all of your support and guidance for this venture. Let’s all work hard to make sure that we reach our fundraising goal.

Flying high in Gualala,

ORAA members:
Naomi Scwartz
Eric Kritz
Mitch Kirby
Sheralyn Kirby
David Bower
John H. Bower

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Fundraising update and more

Email newsletter from 4/28/2014

Hello friends of Ocean Ridge Airport,

I hope this email finds you well. We had a little rain at the end of last week but since then it’s been sunny and pleasant (if not a touch windy) here on the coast.

Here’s an update on fundraising and more:

1. We are currently at about 23% of our fundraising goal. Donations have stalled for the most part, probably because we haven’t been featured in any aviation journals recently. I made sure to get coverage in: AOPA, CalPilots, and AvWeb previously. If you know of any other places I should contact, please let me know.

2. We are working very hard to organize an online crowdsource fundraising campaign, similar to Kickstarter. We’ll be using as a host since Kickstarter is limited to technology and arts projects only. Our goal is to launch it in the next couple of weeks, once we have our donated ‘rewards’ lined up. Our community has been very generous in donating a variety of goodies/discounts toward this campaign.

Hopefully this campaign will get us the remaining $46,000 that we need to get the slurry sealing done by the end of September. Yikes! It’s a lot of money…do you think we can do it?

3. The CalTrans inspector who issued the runway repairs has left the department. We are now under Patrick Miles’ jurisdiction. I will be contacting him as we organize a contractor for the slurry work to make sure that we are doing everything properly. I haven’t met him but I hear he’s great to work with.

4. The paint/markings on the runway will need to be redone after the slurry seal. We are working to determine the amount of paint we will need so we can ask paint vendors for donations or discounts. It sounds like we’ll use traffic paint and reflective glass beads.

5. In the next week we will be scheduling the initial prep work for the runway, including filling potholes and spraying weeds. If you’ve flown in recently, you probably noticed blue and white outlines around the damaged areas that need this type of work. There is also a lot of damage on the taxiway, tie down area, access road west of the runway, and the driveway/parking area near the pilot’s lounge (near the owner’s home–this is used by folks driving into the airport to get to their hangars and planes). However, since those areas are not a safety concern for aircraft and have no CalTrans deadline, they will not be repaired right now. We’ll wait until we’re past the current hurdle.

6. We have some fun things coming up soon: a possible campsite at the airport, a loaner car, an airport day (possibly in the fall with a pumpkin patch and apple picking), and a revamped pilots lounge with wifi and a mini fridge and free cold drinks.

And remember, all of this is to keep Ocean Ridge Airport open to the public as a safe, sunny runway on the Mendonoma Coast.

To everyone who has offered advice and/or donated money to ORA so far, THANK YOU so much! It’s never too late to donate:

Fly safe,


Another donation yesterday afternoon brought us up a bit. We’re nearly 25% of the way there!

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Regrowth along the airport

A few weeks ago, Ocean Ridge Airport was host to the South Coast Fire Department for a fire drill. The fields along the north end of the runway were burned up to the edge of the forest. If you go up there now, you’ll see the brilliant green grasses have started to grow back. It really is lovely.

ORAA_burn regrowth_Feb 2014

Lush green grass after a controlled burn off.

You can even see it from above, as Julie got to do when a friend took her up in a 1946 Luscombe 8A.

ORAA_airport view_Feb 2014

Seeing Ocean Ridge from the air is quite a treat to us land-dwellers!

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