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Buchannan Field (at Concord, California)
2010-03-18

Buchannan Field (at Concord, California) Within the immediate vicinity of Buchannan Field, Concord CA there have been over seven airports over the years. One of the very first was a company strip in the flatlands just north of the Mallard reservoir. This was used by Tosco refinery officials during the twenties and thirties. Another was on the Martinez shoreline between the railroad bridge and the train station. There was also a small private strip along the hillside north west of downtown Clayton. It was private and depending on winds and density altitudes you had to decide on whether to take off over or under the power lines to the west. Been there done that.

More famous was Mahoney Field approximately located where the Concord BART station is now. It was 1200' long and unpaved. The local businesses leased the field for commercial flights in 1920 to a one-plane airline that flew hotel customers from San Francisco to cities in the Central Valley and Los Angeles. The Curtiss Eagle tri-motor flew the route daily from May to near the end of June. Operations stopped when the plane crashed. No further use was ever made of Mahoney Field

The U.S. Mail service had a reliever airport at Concord to be used when Crissy Field at the San Francisco Presideo was socked in by weather. Service began in 1924 and continued until Mills Field (SFO) opened in 1927. Air mail from Concord would be re-routed via truck, train and ferryboat to S. F. Even with perfect connections this would add an additional two hours to the delivery time. This unnamed field was without designated runways at the northeast corner of West and Clayton Road in Concord. With the diversion of the mail service this field was a minimum service facility used by private aviation until Sherman Field somewhere near where the WWI Monument stands in Pleasant Hill offered both fuel and repair service beginning in the 1930's. The Pleasant Hill Subdivision of Sherman Oaks is all that remains as a memory of this airport that closed when Buchannan Field was released as war surplus in 1946.

Buchannan Field began with a slightly more than 400 acre purchase of farmland in 1942. Federal funds were used and two 5000' runways with large cement end pads were constructed with standby pads for the use of P-39 fighters. With an additional 120 acres the Military Transport Command based C-46 transports as a service and training facility. Total WWII cost of the field was over thirteen million with the county spending about a half-million.

The County, in order to promote development of the field, has entered into 50-year lease agreements that must be the 'sweetest' deals in the history of the county. Insiders have been able to lease and use property with only a 1% average increase in payments to the county per year. To my knowledge one hangar group of offices more than make the county payments from just one rental, all the others are gravy. The county operation of the airport would not stand a close investigation as to the differing long-term treatment of the insiders and outsiders at the airport. All airport security is paid for by the individual tie-downs. Businesses pay nothing.

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