It was my first summer as Bremerton National Airport’s Airport Manager and I have thoroughly enjoyed my introduction to this vibrant aviation and industrial park community at “PWT,” the official Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airport identifier. Several great events attracted tremendous community participation and significantly increased the awareness of the airport’s value to wider Kitsap County. In addition, several projects have been completed or are underway, and there is much more to come.
Wings of Freedom returned to the airport in mid-June – for the second year in a row – with five World War II-era aircraft. The B-17, B-24, B-25, P-40, and P-51 aircraft brought many to the flight line to get a close look at the planes, with some going aloft for a first-hand experience with these majestic warbirds. Later in June and in July, the airport hosted two formation flying training clinics, one for Beechcraft Bonanza and Mooney airplane pilots going to the annual AirVenture Convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and another by the Cascade Warbirds. With our expansive ramp and available training airspace nearby, this airport is the perfect location for hosting such training activities. We’re happy to support pilots learning new skills.
Our biggest event of the summer was the Bremerton Fly-In and Car Show during Labor Day weekend. An estimated 3,000 people were in attendance and Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 406 not only fed the crowd with its traditional pancake breakfast, but it also treated 123 “Young Eagles” (kids 8-17) to an introductory flight. The NW BeechBoys provided several tight formation flybys. Great vendor and display support was received from the airport’s Avian Flight Center and Fixed Base Operator, Civil Air Patrol squadron, Cascade Warbirds, Roger Collins, Airlift NW, Washington State Patrol, City of Bremerton, South Kitsap Fire & Rescue, Kitsap County’s Community Emergency Response and Disaster Airlift Support Teams (CERT and DART respectively), U.S. Navy personnel, and many more – all of whom ensured this event set new records! What many may not realize is that – with the Port offering free admission and free parking to the event – all proceeds received from the car show, pancake breakfast, and vendors are returned 100% to the EAA and the Bremerton Pilots Association to benefit their education and scholarship programs.
On a more serious level, Bremerton National Airport – with its expansive facilities, open land, and highly capable all-weather runway – will play a significant role in any future disaster affecting western Washington. Federal, state, and county emergency management organizations all plan to base assets here for future resupply and medical evacuation. The airport has a pivotal role in shaping how the community can better respond to any future disaster. The Kitsap County Disaster Area Response Team (KC DART), a newly formed organization, conducted a disaster response exercise at the airport in September. In such exercises, donated food and supplies are packaged to be transported by small aircraft, then flown to the accepting county, where it is received and processed by their DART volunteers and ultimately redistributed to those in need. Communications are handled via ham radio, independent of normal ground infrastructure channels. In this exercise, 21 volunteer pilots donated their aircraft, time, and fuel to “resupply” Jefferson County by air with over 5,800 pounds of food, water, medical equipment, and household supplies. To serve ongoing real needs, all goods were donated to the Jefferson County food bank. 100% of communication messages were transmitted via the Kitsap Amateur Radio Society via the county’s Emergency Operations Center, and 100% were received in Jefferson County. The exercise was incredibly successful and multiple processes were validated. The 2020 DART exercise will see Jefferson and Clallam Counties return the “resupply” favor to Kitsap County so that our local food banks similarly benefit.
Had this been a real disaster, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state Department of Emergency Management personnel and assets would have also deployed to Bremerton National Airport to assist with disaster response efforts. With roads and bridges expected to be impassable (as is widely anticipated in an earthquake event), over 180 volunteer pilots across Washington state have offered their services to provide the necessary airlift to keep communities going.
I recently completed training as a Kitsap County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteer and am one of the state’s DART pilots. I strongly believe in this program and its importance to both Kitsap County and the wider Olympic Peninsula. It is my intention to expand both CERT and DART into a larger program within the county and at the airport so that – when disaster strikes – Bremerton National Airport will be a vital asset in both the delivery and the receipt of the necessary supplies. There are never enough volunteers for such worthwhile endeavors. If you would like to know more, please contact me.
While these public events and exercises now tapering off as we enter the fourth quarter, attention is now being placed on both airport and industrial park facilities and properties. We must maintain what we have, and we must prepare for future growth. By doing so, we will expand the economic impact of the Port in the region, increase the number of local jobs, and increase the community’s quality of life.
At the airport, we have recently completed the exterior repainting of two hangar buildings. We are in the process of replacing 100% of the flight line lighting with energy-efficient and more reliable LED fixtures. We are completing design and environmental studies for multiple new hangars, with construction planned for next year. (We are currently at 100% of hangar capacity, with more potential tenants on the waiting list than even these new projects will be able to accommodate). A new maintenance equipment storage facility will be erected this winter, as will new Port of Bremerton signage. All runway/taxiway/signage on the airfield will be upgraded to 100% LED lighting next summer. And not only important to our aviation users, but especially important to our community, we will construct a new airport diner in 2020.
Within the industrial park, we are about to finish a roof replacement project at the SAFE Boats manufacturing facility. We have created a joint interlocal agreement with Kitsap County and the City of Bremerton for more efficient snow removal operations when the need arises. We are preparing for the groundbreaking of the proposed Circuit of the Northwest motorsports facility. We are constructing a new 10,000 square-foot building that has already attracted the interest of multiple tenants. And finally, we will be completing engineering studies on the Sky Park Industrial Park, located east of the existing runway, to prepare for future development. It’s an exciting time…
On a personal note, please permit me a moment to share how thrilled I am to serve you and the Port of Bremerton. The Port has an incredible staff from top to bottom and tremendous support from our three elected Commissioners. The five airport maintenance staff members have a cumulative 77 years of experience AT THIS FACILITY; that is an unprecedented statistic and speaks highly of the pride taken by these fine gentlemen in the Port and its facilities. I am thrilled with the activism, participation, and skill sets of our tenants and customers. The Bremerton Pilots Association, the Peninsula Composite Civil Air Patrol Squadron, and EAA Chapter 406 are tremendous assets as well as significant ambassadors for the airport. What a wonderful place to work.
All of us are a team. I invite your participation, your questions, and your feedback always. Please feel free to contact me any time. Thank you.