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D83 - Boonville, California

Note: This airport used to be Q17. It was renamed in 2004.

Information verified accurate as of: March 14, 2002

The Airport

Located in the Anderson Valley in the California coastal foothills of Mendocino County, Boonville is a small airport with few services. It is located about 85nm northwest of the city of San Francisco. The airport is surrounded by hills which, I'm told, sometimes intimidate pilots new to the area. However, the ample 3200 foot runway and frequent strong direct headwinds should make this airport easy for anyone to use. No fuel or repair services are available.

Despite appearences, there is no taxiway. The pavement that looks like one is actually a neighboring road. The spurs from the runway, which are blocked to public access, allow people to taxi their planes directly to their yards or hangars across the street. Boonville is home to a small but very active aviation community. Many people own old or antique planes, like Piper Cubs, Decathlons, or the 1967 Beech Sundowner shown above.
The tiedown area is located on the west side of the 31 approach area (top left in the airport picture above). The surface is slurry-sealed gravel in OK condition, although you might want to taxi at low RPM to avoid any damage due to occasional loose gravel. Tiedown ropes are provided, although they are not in very good condition. NOTE: Update from the Booneville airport manager 4/17/2005. There is a new tiedown area paved with asphalt in excellent condition. I haven't seen it myself, but they say they are working hard to improve the airport and welcome all visitors.

On the east side of the runway about halfway down you will find a secondary grass tiedown area, a public payphone, an information board with a map of the area, and a control tower (well, an outhouse). Apparently the outhouse has quite a pedigree. In the early 1980s, Amelia Reid was in the area for an airshow, landed at Boonville, and couldn't find a restroom. She knocked on every door on the neighboring road until someone finally let her in. The airport community decided this was a good excuse to put up a public outhouse. The event caused Boonville Airport to adopt the motto "Boonville - The place to go!". You can buy T-shirts with this motto and a picture of the outhouse (I'm not kidding) at the airport manager's house. The address and ordering information are available on the information board. Proceeds benefit the airport. Definitely a must-have!

Boonville is actively interested in attracting pilots. Fly-ins are welcome, and if you have a big group you can contact the airport manager and he will arrange for camping space and perhaps a tour of some of the old planes.

(For those of you who don't know, Amelia Reid was a much-loved aviatrix and aerobatics pilot from the Bay Area. Sean D. Tucker was one of her most famous students. Rod Machado also got an early start as a gas boy at Reid's FBO at Reid-Hillview Airport. Amelia Reid passed away on March 3, 2001. She was 77.)

Close to the Airport

The town of Boonville is a short 15 minute walk from the airport. From the tiedown area, cross the runway and turn right on Airport Road (the short road that looks like a taxiway). Then turn left on Mountain View Road. You will walk past a high school and then intersect the main highway, Route 128. Turn right on 128 and you will be in Boonville.

Boonville is a small town, but does have a number of restaurants, an ice cream shop, some antique/curio shops, and an old hotel. The entire town is an easy walk. It's a great place for a $100 hamburger. You will find Boonville an extremely friendly town. Everyone smiles or nods and people are happy to sit and talk for a while.

The biggest event in Boonville is the annual county fair, which is held in mid-September. The fair starts on Friday morning and runs through Sunday night. Features include horse shows, wine tasting, a football game, stage shows, and a sheep dog contest. The airport is pretty busy during this time. Camping is available on the field, and a shuttle runs between the airport and the fair every 20 minutes throughout the day. Contact the airport manager for details.

Far from the Airport

Perhaps because it doesn't want to compete with the surrounding area famous for its wine, Boonville seems to find a niche with beer. Locally brewed beer is available in the town, and if you continue on 128 past the town center to the intersection with Route 253 (about 2 miles from the airport) you will find the famous Anderson Valley Brewing Company. Tours are given daily at 1:30 and 4:00.
There isn't much surrounding Boonville except rolling hills, vineyards, and horse farms. However, this makes it a perfect place to go biking. For an aerobic workout, try Route 253 towards Ukiah, which has a pretty steep incline. Alternatively, you can continue on Route 128, which is reasonably flat. Either direction will take you through beautiful countryside and a series of tiny towns.

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