John Wayne Airport doesn't need 'O.C.'

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John Wayne Airport doesn't need 'O.C.'

Post by Hanna » Tue Mar 04, 2008 1:27 pm

Sunday, February 24, 2008
John Wayne Airport doesn't need 'O.C.'
Name change seems unnecessary. Let's just keep honoring America's greatest movie star.

Register columnist

As far as I'm concerned, the late John Wayne was America's greatest movie star ever. In the roles he played, and the image he projected, he makes most of today's male stars look like a bunch of limp-wristed pantywaists.

Oh, sure, the former Newport Beach resident made some stinkers -- the 1956 film "The Conqueror," in which the Duke played Genghis Khan, comes quickly to mind. But I've watched "Stagecoach," "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon," "The Searchers," "True Grit," "The Shootist" and numerous other John Wayne films dozens of times, and I never get tired of them. And even though he's been dead since 1979, John Wayne still consistently ranks in the Harris poll of America's Top 10 most popular movie stars (most recently he was No. 6), right up there with Johnny Depp and Tom Hanks.

Nevertheless, for all of John Wayne's popularity, for almost three decades, some people in Orange County have been complaining about having his name on our airport.

As reported in the Register last week, the most recent airport name controversy comes from local tourism boosters who want to change the name from "John Wayne Airport" to "John Wayne-Orange County Airport." It's part of an effort to "brand" Orange County as a tourist destination and cash in on the county's fame as a setting for TV shows such as "The O.C." and "The Real Housewives of Orange County" – neither of which, I should note, I have ever seen.

Well, it's true that "John Wayne Airport" can be a little confusing to out-of-towners who may not know that it's in Orange County. And it probably doesn't help that the three-letter "airport identifier code" for John Wayne Airport – that's the one they put on your checked baggage -- is "SNA," which is short for "Santa Ana."

(It was given that code in 1939, when Santa Ana was the only town nearby, but aviation officials have traditionally been reluctant to change airport codes to fit changing times and circumstances. For example, the Sioux City, Iowa, airport tried for years to get the Federal Aviation Administration to change its code from "SUX" to something else, but without success. Meanwhile, an obvious code for John Wayne Airport – "JWA" – is already taken by Jwaneng Airport in Botswana.)

Still, I think most of us have gotten used to the airport's name. And it's hard to see how the value of changing it would be worth the cost of the airport having to order new stationery.

As I said, this argument has been raging on and off since 1979, when former Orange County Supervisor Thomas Riley, a friend of the then-recently-deceased actor, slipped a proposal to change the name from "Orange County Airport" to "John Wayne Airport" into the board's "consent" agenda, after which it was unanimously approved without public comment. Riley also reportedly asked the FAA to change the airport's code to "DUK," as in "Duke" Wayne, but that never went anywhere.

After the initial name-change, and periodically ever since, some people complained that John Wayne had nothing to do with the airport or aviation in general, and that if the airport was named after anybody, it should have been named after Eddie Martin, an Orange County aviation pioneer. And maybe they had a point.

On the other hand, a lot of airports are named after entertainment figures who had nothing to do with airplanes except for riding in them. Burbank's airport is named after Bob Hope, the New Orleans airport is named after Louis Armstrong, and Liverpool, England, has an airport named after John Lennon.

So, why not an airport named after the immortal John Wayne? And why go to the trouble and expense of changing it to "John Wayne-Orange County Airport" when nobody would ever call it by the complete name anyway?

"We're happy with the (current) name," says airport spokeswoman Jenny Wedge, adding: "It's not a small undertaking" to change an airport's name. She noted, however, that ultimately it is the county Board of Supervisors' call.

And frankly, I doubt that the supes will go along with the name change idea. I suspect that the political grief they'd get from people who like the current name – the same kind of grief they got in 2004 when Supervisor Chris Norby suggested changing the name to "The O.C. Airport, John Wayne Field" – would far outweigh any benefit a name change would bring.

So, I'm guessing the name will stay. There is, however, one potential change that might benefit John Wayne Airport.

Maybe they could buy "JWA" from Botswana.

Contact the writer: 714-796-7953 or ... ame-county

Posts: 2766
Joined: Sun Oct 15, 2006 8:11 pm

Re: John Wayne Airport doesn't need 'O.C.'

Post by Hanna » Sun Mar 16, 2008 8:34 am

Saturday, March 1, 2008
Six-guns drawn over John Wayne Airport name change - OCR
Letters to the editor for Saturday, March 1, 2008

I pretty much always agree with Gordon Dillow, and his column about John Wayne Airport was no exception ["John Wayne airport doesn't need 'O.C.'," Local, Feb. 24]. I'm thrilled to see the larger-than-life statue of John Wayne, six-gun prominently visible, every time I'm at the airport that bears his name. I proudly flew out of it for a few years as a pilot with American, until I switched to LAX for international flying.

Though there might be others that the airport could have been appropriately named after, such as Eddie Martin, or Paul Mantz/Frank Tallman, etc., it seems fitting to name the airport after the most famous Newport Beach legend of all. He did do a wonderful job starring in the aviation classic "The High and the Mighty." And he was in many others in a pilot role, or having to do with aviation. I suspect that many of those who do not like the airport being named after John Wayne, also do not like the ideals and values that he consistently stood for in his movies.

Regarding those who desire to change the name to "John Wayne – Orange County Airport," it's really a nonissue, as the airport already is referred to as "Orange County" on the TV screens in airports across the country, and on the airline Web sites.

Sure, the identifier indeed is SNA, and shouldn't ever change, but it's better than many that have nothing to do with where the airport actually is. For instance, LGA for LaGuardia Airport – named after a former mayor of New York, but few people know that anymore.

So, yes, its name is "John Wayne Airport," but it's advertised as "Orange County" to the traveling public, and that's what the tourism boosters want. It's the same as DCA being named "Ronald Reagan Airport," but it's listed as "Washington National." And others – we are not unique. The idea of naming it "The O.C. Airport, John Wayne Field" is simply laughable.

What isn't laughable is that we don't have an airport we could name "El Toro International."

–Eric Schultz of Corona del Mar ... eb-special

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