Will This Be the Last Place Crazy Saturday Ever?

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PCS_July2013
A note about Plane Crazy Saturday from Cathy Hansen of the Mojave Transportation Museum:

Notice!!! This could be our last Plane Crazy Saturday.

MTM’s Plane Crazy Saturday has been given a one month reprieve, and will be allowed to hold Plane Crazy Saturday on July 20, 2013 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Mojave Air and Space Port.

We have no idea what our fate will be after July, it is all up to the Mojave Air and Space Port Board of Directors and airport management. The airport board meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 16 at 2 p.m. and is open to the public. You are welcome to attend, or write a letter and show your support of this monthly event.

MTM’s only position is that we continue to hold PCS monthly without charge, and if that is not approved by the airport board, then Plane Crazy Saturday ends.

There has been a simmering dispute between the Mojave Transportation Museum, which runs Plane Crazy Saturday on a volunteer basis, and Spaceport General Manager/CEO Stu Witt. Witt wants the museum to pay a monthly fee to cover the cost of a security guard. The spaceport’s Board of Directors passed a measure requiring a fee, but it has suspended enforcement while the two parties try to work things out.

Museum officials say they can provide the security themselves and don’t feel they should be charged for volunteering their to put on an event that brings publicity to the airport and benefits the community.

If you want Plane Crazy Saturdays to continue, please attend the meeting if you can and urge the airport to waive the fee. The five members of the board are elected by the local citizens of Mojave and California City. They are there to represent your interests. They need to hear from you.

Full disclosure: I am on the board of the Mojave Transportation Museum.  I’m also a local resident who has attended many Plane Crazy Saturdays. I have a space blog that covers Mojave. And I vote.

For all these reasons, I want to see Plane Crazy Saturday continue. It’s fun to see the aircraft and to listen to the speakers they have every month. I’ve had friends from out of town come out here, and they’ve been able to see the planes and get tours of different hangars. They’ve really enjoyed themselves, and they’ve gone back and spread the word about all the amazing things that are happening in Mojave.

Plane Crazy Saturday is one of the few regularly scheduled events in Mojave open to everyone. This is no small matter in an unincorporated town that lacks a government that would normally organize parades, picnics, and other activities. These monthly gatherings help create a sense of community in a town that sorely lacks it.

Plane Crazy Saturday is also one of the few ways that local residents can connect to spaceport and get to know the people who work there and the pioneering work they are doing. If they end, I fear that the airport will grow more distant and isolated from the community that it serves.

Plane Crazy Saturday is the type of event that the airport should be holding anyway. I know that companies like their privacy there. But, this is a public airport whose board is elected by local residents. The airport should do more outreach to the local community. The Mojave Transportation Museum is willing to perform that function at almost no cost to the airport. Why drive them out?

I sincerely hope that Plane Crazy Saturday will continue for years to come. Again, if you feel the same way, join us at the board meeting on Tuesday afternoon in the Administration Building. Let your voice be heard.

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  • Andy

    I’m having difficulty understanding the issue. What does the MTM “security” consist of? Volunteers making sure people keep out of places that they’re not supposed to be? What was the impetus for Mr. Witt’s demand of a hired security guard? Was there vandalism, theft, etc?

    I made this suggestion on a previous PA entry about Plane Crazy Saturday: “hire” Civil Air Patrol cadets as security. They do it at Oshkosh. When I was a CAP cadet, we provided annually provided “security” at the airshow hosted at the naval air station nearby. Our “security” consisted of little more than looking official in our uniforms and asking people politely not to go to places they shouldn’t. Politely saying “Ma’am/Sir, please step back from there. That area is off limits.” deters a lot of mischief!

    The general aviation airport where our squadron was located hosted events similar to Plane Crazy Saturday. CAP cadets provided “security” which, again, mainly consisted of asking people politely to keep out of places they shouldn’t go, telling rugrats not to climb on the elevators, etc. This event was great community outreach for General Aviation and fueled my interest in aviation and engineering.

    Plane Crazy Saturday sounds like a great event and I offer these suggestions & anecdotes with only the best of intentions.

  • dr

    Just wondering…
    Is Plane Crazy Saturday sponsored by anyone? I mean if it isn’t, then could MTM not advertise for a sponsor, and then use the sponsor money to hire the guard? Heck, maybe even a security company would sponsor it, and provide the guard as their sponsorhip.
    So you would have Plane Crazy Saturday sponsored by A.N.Other rather than just Plane Crazy Saturday.
    Or do you charge an entrance fee? Maybe a dollar per person, or fifty cents per person would cover it… (I don’t know how many visitors you have).
    Alternatively, could either MTM or the airport run a stall of some description, drinks / snacks etc, and use the profits to fund the guard?
    Or ask a volunteer to video the event and make little videos, upload them to Youtube and then get advertising money from viewers watching the videos to put towards the costs of the guard.
    I assume that MTM want the event to be free so that no-one has to pay at all.
    If so, can you get your local government, council etc, to fund a police officer to visit the event to provide security? (ie taxpayers then pay)
    I guess that you have already thought of these things, but it does seem to me that a lot is at stake over what should be just a small issue.

  • Douglas Messier

    The Mojave Transportation Museum has suggested doing exactly that to handle the security issue. In fact, during last month’s PCS, they brought in a group of CAP cadets to provide security. I wasn’t there (I had an assignment to cover a rocket launch up at FAR), this worked well.

    But, the airport remains concerned about liability and feels it should charge MTM as it does other groups. Normally, use of the airport (for filming commercials, etc.) costs about $1,000 to start per occasion plus other fees. Witt decided on a nominal fee of $100 per month, which covers a security guard at $25 per hour.

    The MTM board has balked at the cost, saying they’re not a money-making operation but a non-profit volunteering its time for something that benefits the airport and Moajve.

  • Douglas Messier

    There have been offers from Mr. Witt and the operator of the Voyager to make donations that would combined cover the cost of the fee. However, MTM is standing on principal: they are a non-profit that volunteers time for these events that benefit the airport and Mojave, not a for-profit operation wanting to make money off the events. (MTM does make some profit from the sale of merchandise, but it’s pretty minimal.) The were also holding these events for more than three years before the whole issue of liability and a fee came up.

  • Old Hoosier

    So, the long and short of it is that Plane Crazy may die because the Airport wants $100 to host it?

  • Douglas Messier

    Yeah. That’s it in a nutshell.

  • dr

    If MTM and the airport cannot agree, then the last PCS will happen. Would it be possible for some other group, like say a PCS organising committee to be formed to organise future PCS’s instead of MTM? Maybe this committee would not be so concerned about receiving a donation or generating some revenue to cover the costs of the event. Then that committee could organise the PCS’s, accept Mr Witt and Voyager’s donation and then pay the airport to provide the security guard etc etc. and Mojave would have PCS’s again.