Municipal Improvements

During Ackerman’s tenure a number of activities begin and improvements were completed:
  • The first annual West Coast National Antique Fly-In in 1964; now the Watsonville Fly-in & Air Show
  • Apron lighting installed in 1971
  • Terminal building constructed in 1974
  • A Localizer installed in 1976 enabled establishment of a non-precision instrument approach
  • City fire Station No. 2, was established in 1978 to serve the airport and surrounding areas
  • Non-Directional Beacon added in 1980 improved the instrument approach procedure
  • Visual Approach Slope Indicators installation on Runways 1 and 19, and expansion of the apron area in 1980
  • Additional T-hangar space added incrementally in 1984

Take a look at the photo gallery of the municipal improvements.

Ackerman remained Manager until 1987. From 1987 until 1990 Kimberly Wirht served as Manager. After the Loma Prieta earthquake of October 1989 the Airport provided the only access to the Pajaro Valley. An estimated 100 tons of supplies were airlifted during the first week following the earthquake.

In 1990 Assistant Fire Chief Don French, a certificated pilot, added interim Airport Manager to his responsibilities. In 1997 French accepted the full-time role as Airport Manager and under his capable leadership additional hangars were added in 1993, airside and landside lease holds were increased, an Airport Driving Range was developed, technology was brought to the terminal, perimeter fencing improved and Aviation Way was widened.

During French’s tenure he oversaw over 300 corporate and private aircraft, north-south (2-20), east-west (8-26) runways and the addition of a GPS instrument approach.  French also led the evolution of the Antique “Fly-In” to a full scale Air Show and witnessed the largest plane to fly in and out Watsonville, a Gulf Stream IV, which is slightly smaller than the Boeing 737.

In 2003 an AMBAG economic study stated the Total Direct Economic Impact of the airport exceeded $16 million annually to the community.

After serving an additional fourteen years French retired in 2011. Rayvon Williams, who learned to fly at Watsonville and served as a volunteer aviation safety counselor supporting French, was hired as the airport’s manager in the July 2011. 

In 2016, given the Municipal Airport had established demonstrated success as an self sustaining "Enterprise Fund"  the City Council reclassified the Airport Division, within the City's Public Works Department, as its own Department.  The Municipal Airport became City Department effective January 12, 2017 under City Ordinance 1344-16.  Rayvon Williams continues to lead the Municipal Airport as it first Director.