Fullerton Municipal Airport (IATA: FUL, ICAO: KFUL), owned and operated by the City of Fullerton, is a Regional Relief airport in Orange County, California.
The airport is in the southwestern corner of Fullerton on Commonwealth Avenue, northeast of the junction of the Santa Ana and Riverside Freeways. The airport and its industrial park are surrounded by residential areas. It is popular among private pilots traveling within the state of California, but there are occasional flights to/from Nevada, Arizona and Utah.
Fullerton Municipal Airport can trace its origins to 1913 when barnstormers and crop dusters used the former pig farm as a makeshift landing strip. The site later became home to a sewer farm.
The airport's "official" birthday is 1927. William and Robert Dowling, with the aid of H. A. Krause and the Fullerton Chamber of Commerce, had petitioned the council for permission to turn the by then-abandoned sewer farm into a landing field. The Fullerton City Council approved Ordinance 514 in January 1927, formally establishing the airport. The council leased the land to the chamber for five years, at a fee of $1 per year, and the chamber, in turn, subleased operations to William Dowling and friend Willard Morris of Yorba Linda. The city would assume direct control of the facility in January 1941.
A portion of the Howard Hughes feature Hell's Angels was filmed at Fullerton in 1929. Hughes would feature later in Fullerton's history by buying a tract of land for Hughes Aircraft. The campus eventually became home to Hughes Aircraft Ground Systems Group, closing in 2000.
In 1949 Dick Riedel and Midway City, California's Bill Barris of Fullerton Air Service, sponsored by the Fullerton Chamber of Commerce, set a world flight endurance record from the airport, keeping their modified Aeronca Sedan, the Sunkist Lady aloft for 1,008 hours and 2 minutes.
The control tower, built with Federal Aviation Administration funds in 1959, was the first in Orange County.
The California Highway Patrol, Anaheim Police Department, and Orange County Fire Authority maintain helicopters on the airfield.
The airport also had scheduled passenger air service provided by Golden West Airlines during the 1970s to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) which was flown with de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter turboprop aircraft.
Fullerton Municipal Airport covers 86 acres (350,000 m2) and has one runway and one heliport:6/24: 3,121 × 75 ft (951 × 23 m) Asphalt
Heliport H1: 37 × 37 ft (11 × 11 m) Concrete
Its control tower handles an average of 262 operations per day.
Aviation Facilities Inc. (AFI Flight Training) is west of the control tower on the south side of the field.
The airport and surrounding areas have seen their share of accidents. Residents have complained that pilots often deviate from the recommended departure from the airport, following the BNSF Railway tracks. Pilots, in turn, complain that Fullerton and the neighboring city of Buena Park have permitted too much dense residential development in the area, which had been almost entirely agricultural when the airport was first constructed.
Since 1962 no fewer than 121 planes have crashed at or near the airport, killing a total of 19. Most noteworthy of these was on September 25, 2004 when a 1985 Stout Bushmaster 2000 (a spinoff of a Ford Tri-Motor) crashed during an airport exhibition. The plane's rudder locked to a left position during the takeoff roll, causing the plane to veer left off the runway. The pilot was able to get the plane airborne before rolling into a crowd of spectators; the plane then narrowly missed the airport's control tower, rolled hard left and crashed onto a busy thoroughfare. In all, four were injured: the 2-person flight crew and two in a moving car. The cause of the accident was due to failure of the flight crew to remove a gust lock—improvised from a nylon cargo strap—from the plane's empennage before flight.