The Catalina airport got its name “Airport in the Sky,” because it was built at an elevation of 1,600 feet above sea level at the highest point on the island. Construction was completed just after WWII in 1946, and the process included cutting off two mountaintops and using the dirt and rock to fill the hole between the peaks to create a 3,250-foot runway.
A perfect little airport
We especially like this airport because the atmosphere is unusually peaceful and serene, and the tower building reminds us of something out of a John Wayne western. In addition, the island is located some 30 miles off the coast of mainland California, so the air on Catalina is crisp, clean, and invigorating. The major reason for the ultra-tranquil mood of the surroundings is that this is a private airport and only accessible by charter or personal plane. It’s always quiet.
Have a bite to eat
The Runway Cafe located on site has surprisingly good food. The restaurant has a homey ambiance and offers ample indoor and outdoor seating. The panoramic view from the patio is outstanding. Try the tasty DC3 burger of grilled buffalo meat. We don’t think you will find a similar treat at any other airport facility in the United States. If eating a buffalo doesn’t appeal to you, there are many other interesting selections on the menu.
Visit the Nature Center
A unique attraction at the airport is a free Nature Center where you can wonder around an exhibit that explains the history of the early inhabitants of the island, as well as the various plants and animals found there. Getting to and from the town of Avalon is an easy 10-mile bus ride along a scenic winding road. If you are a pilot, you will enjoy this as a flight destination. If you visit the island by boat, be sure to include a bike or bus ride to the airport for lunch and the view.
If you would like to learn more about Catalina Island, check out our other articles on the subject:
Catalina Island Company Plans $11M Upgrades
The Catalina Grand Casino
Our Favorite Hotel in Avalon
The Wild Cats of Catalina
The Catalina Island Country Club
The Zane Grey Invitational Marlin Tournament