The fate of Plane Crazy Saturday remained up in the air Tuesday as the Mojave Transportation Museum (MTM) and the board of the Mojave Air and Space Port came no closer to resolving their differences over the monthly event.
At issue is a new $100 monthly fee that the spaceport has imposed upon MTM to cover security and liability costs. Officials say that the fee is more than fair because other groups that use the airport are charged much more. Officials from the transportation museum say they will not pay to volunteer their time for an event that promotes the airport.
That’s where things have stood for months — and nothing changed on Tuesday during the spaceport board’s monthly meeting. Both sides restated their positions without budging an inch. As a result, this week’s Plane Crazy Saturday could be the very last one in Mojave.
During an unusual active public comment period, five people stood up to urge a resolution to the standoff. MTM’s Bill Deaver and Cathy Hansen restated their group’s position and talked about the importance of the event to the community and for promoting the airport not only locally but worldwide.
They said that MTM has been running the event for 3.5 years without any safety problems. Local Civil Air Patrol (CAP) members have offered to volunteer to provide security, as they did during the event last month.
Capt. Gail Harper, a public affairs officer at Edwards Air Force Base who is involved with CAP 84, said members of her group and other local CAP members were at Plane Crazy Saturday last month to help provide security.
Harper said CAP members were quite excited to see the planes that are on display and to meet the pilots. She added that Plane Crazy Saturday was helping to inspire students who might one day work at the spaceport designing and building advanced airplanes and spacecraft.
That sentiment was echoed by Andrew Bingham, an employee of one of the companies on the airport. He said he was inspired to pursue a career in aerospace while attending air shows and open houses where he grew up in Vermont.
He said Plane Crazy Saturday is the one event that allows companies to share what they are working on, providing a valuable bridge between them and the local community. He urged the two parties to come to a resolution of their differences.
Mojave Spaceport board members said the fee is reasonable and fair. They also pointed out that several people, including the operator of the Voyager restaurant, have offered to make contributions that would cover the $1,200 annual cost to the museum.
“It seems kind of strange” that MTM would stop holding Plane Crazy Saturday, said board member Dick Rutan.
After the meeting, Deaver said he would take the matter back to the MTM board. Options include accepting donations to cover the fee, or charging a small fee of $2 for people who attend the talk that is held during the event. Plane Crazy Saturday is currently free.