Buchanan Field flying high as public safety resource

Buchanan Field flying high as public safety resource

Buchanan Field flying high as public safety resource
Concord’s Buchanan Field provides a home to many businesses involving and supporting aviation. (Pete Cruz photo)

CONCORD, CA (May 31, 2024) — Located in Concord, Buchanan Field is a small but mighty airport that has a long history of providing aviation services to the Diablo region and adding to the economic well-being of Contra Costa County.

The origins of Buchanan Field go back to 1942, when Contra Costa County purchased more than 400 acres of land to build an airport in central county for $98,000. One year later, while the airport was being developed, the United States entered World War II and the U.S. Army commandeered the airport land. They added 100 acres of land and spent $2 million to construct facilities.

In 1947, the U.S. Army transferred the airport back to the county for public use and it was renamed Buchanan Field after County Supervisor William J. Buchanan. Since then, Buchanan Field has been the heart of aviation in Contra Costa.

Buchanan Field and Byron Airport are run by the Airports Division, a unique, self-funded branch of the county Public Works Department. No property tax or local funds are used to support and operate Buchanan Field and Byron Airport. In fact, the airports generate revenues contributing more than one million dollars to the county’s general fund and more than two million dollars to support school districts within the county.

Economic impact

In my role as vice chair of the Board of Supervisors’ Airport Committee, I have had the opportunity to see the economic impact firsthand. We review lease agreements for hangars and surrounding land, potential new development and other uses of airport property.

Currently, the biggest project at the airport nears completion. The new Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) General Aviation Terminal and Administration Building will finish soon. This new building will include multiple aircraft rescue and firefighting bays. It also features state-of-the-art general aviation terminal, public meeting spaces and administration offices for the Airports Division.

Buchanan Field provides a home to many businesses involving and supporting aviation. Since 2016, JetSuiteX has offered private air travel with attainable fares as a public charter operator. They provide daily flights to Burbank, Orange County and Las Vegas.

To meet the workforce demands of tomorrow, there are also several flight schools that train commercial airline pilots at Buchanan Field. In addition, both airports welcome emerging technology companies shaping the future of autonomous flight and testing new technologies.

Buchanan Field maintains important safety assets. The Office of the Sheriff houses the Sheriff’s Tactical Airbourne Reconnaissance and Rescue (STARR), which provides support for search and rescue operations in our waterways and open spaces. The Contra Costa Fire Protection District’s helicopter is staffed to respond to fire and medical emergencies. These resources service the entire county and provide mutual aid throughout the region.

The future

Buchanan Field has proved to be both an economic asset and an important public safety resource for Contra Costa. I am excited about what the future holds for aviation in our county. I invite you to learn more about the Airports Division at www.contracosta.ca.gov/4694/Airports.

Ken Carlson is Contra Costa County District IV supervisor. Email questions or comments to Carlson at SupervisorCarlson@bos.cccounty.us or call his office at 925-655-2350.