Pilot Community Rises Up in Support of SMO

Friends of Santa Monica Airport organizes to save the airport.

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View from Typhoon restaurant at SMO.

A movement to close the Santa Monica airport in 2015 is now being fought by a new organization called Friends of Santa Monica Airport (FOSMO). Aiming to attract the general public to the airport, FOSMO organized an event at the Justice Aviation hangar last week featuring Tony Bill, director of the movie "Flyboys." In addition to scenes from his movie, Bill presented historic movie clips from several dog fighting movies, such as Howard Hughes' "Hell's Angels."

This weekend, FOSMO participated in a fundraising event at the airport's restaurant, Typhoon, called "Jazz For Japan." During a 12-hour session, local jazz bands performed to raise money for the survivors of the recent 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

Currently limited to certificated pilots, aircraft mechanics and air traffic controllers, FOSMO aims to promote aviation at Santa Monica airport and to educate the public about past, present and future benefits of its continued existence. A major part of aviation history, the airport grounds at SMO were officially used as early as 1919. Howard Hughes learned to fly there in the 1920s, and from 1922 to 1972, Douglas Aircraft Company built nearly 11,000 airplanes at Santa Monica Airport. The airport has also been frequented by Amelia Earhart, Pancho Barnes, Louise Thaden and many other historical pilots.