Calaveras County and Calaveras County Airport – Calaveras County, California

May 30, 2024

Calaveras County and Calaveras County Airport

Soaring Ambitions


A Strategic Leap into 2024 and Beyond

Calaveras County, nestled in the scenic heart of California’s Gold Country, boasts historical charm and a thriving contemporary spirit, especially evident in its infrastructure, like the Calaveras County Airport. Officially known as Maury Rasmussen Field, this general aviation hub plays a pivotal role in the region, serving a diverse range of aviation needs without air traffic control, thus requiring pilots to self-monitor their activities.

Alaina Belli, the Airport Manager, elaborates on the facility’s essential characteristics and operations. “Calaveras County Airport is primarily a hub for private pilots, many of whom are small business owners using their flights for commuting purposes,” she explains. The runway, extending 3602 feet in length and 60 feet in width, accommodates a steady flow of aviation activity, positioned about 40 miles east of Stockton. This town hosts a larger airport and a flight school.

The airport’s proximity to Stockton’s educational facilities plays a part in its daily operations. “JC Air Academy often sends its students here to practice takeoffs and landings,” Belli notes, highlighting the interdependence between regional aviation institutions. This relationship enhances the training experience for emerging pilots and increases the usage of Calaveras County’s facilities, enriching its role in the aviation community.


Enhancing Airport Infrastructure

Calaveras County Airport is more than just a quaint landing strip in the picturesque hills of California; it’s a facility on the brink of substantial upgrades to serve the community and its pilots better. Belli outlines recent and planned improvements with an eye toward future needs.

“In June 2023, we resurfaced our main runway,” she begins. The necessity for this maintenance became apparent as significant wear and tear had developed. “We had cracks that were not just horizontal but had vertical lifts of an inch or two, disrupting the smoothness of the runway.” The repair, conducted by contractors Mead and Hunt and VSS International, was a temporary solution—a “Band-Aid job,” as Belli describes it—that involved drilling out damaged sections, repaving, and re-slurring the entire surface. The refresh significantly improved the runway’s appearance and functionality.

However, the aspirations for the airport extend beyond mere surface repairs. “Ultimately, we’re aiming for a completely new runway,” Belli reveals. Financial and logistical support through FAA grants is part of the strategy, though total funding and planning alignment with the FAA are still pending. “There’s also talk of extending the runway, which is challenging given our hilltop location,” she adds, highlighting the spatial constraints that dictate much of the airport’s physical development.

Belli also touches on the operational aspects that make Calaveras County Airport appealing despite its challenges. “The unique topography offers pilots an easier approach and departure compared to airports flanked by mountains,” she says. Installing LED runway lights—a feature not commonly found at regional airports—further enhances this accessibility. “The lights make our runway incredibly visible at night, simplifying landings and takeoffs.”

Expanding Airport Commerce

Amid the serene backdrop of Calaveras County’s rolling hills and rich historical tapestry, the Calaveras County Airport is embracing commercial expansion to enhance its operational capabilities and service offerings. Belli details the current business ecosystem within the airport.

“We host two full-service aviation mechanic repair shops that handle everything from airframe and powerplant repairs to refinishing,” she states, outlining the comprehensive on-site services. These facilities are equipped to revamp older aircraft, applying modern materials like fabric coatings instead of traditional metals and even repainting the aircraft. “Additionally, an avionics shop installs advanced electronic systems in planes, many of which are older models being upgraded to include touchscreen interfaces and other modern navigational tools.”

Kathryn “Kathy” Gallino, Director at County of Calaveras Economic & Community Development, then shifts the conversation towards the broader economic impact of the airport and its synergy with the county’s tourism sector. “While we primarily see private, single-engine flights, we also have a unique float plane operation that takes advantage of the nearby lakes,” she explains.

From an economic development standpoint, Gallino is keen on integrating transportation solutions that cater to tourists. “We’re looking at options for rental vehicles and other transportation services to make it easier for visitors to stay and explore our region,” she shares. Efforts like these are part of a larger strategy to leverage the airport as a gateway to Calaveras County’s numerous attractions, including the famous Calaveras Jumping Frog Jubilee and local wineries beginning to rival Napa in renown and quality.

“Our local wineries, like Ironstone, which hosts a popular summer concert series, are becoming well-known,” Gallino adds, reinforcing the idea that the airport could play a crucial role in enhancing accessibility to these events and venues, ultimately supporting the county’s economic growth through increased visitor numbers.

Addressing Housing and Development Challenges

Calaveras County, celebrated for its scenic landscapes and vibrant tourist attractions, faces significant challenges in housing and infrastructure that require urgent attention. Gallino highlights ongoing efforts to expand lodging options in response to the area’s booming tourism sector.

“We’re working with two hotel developers to increase our hotel space significantly,” she shares. The current count of 350 rooms falls short of demand, prompting initiatives to double this number. In addition to traditional hotels, the county also embraces alternative accommodations. “Up Highway 4, from Murphys to Arnold and Avery, we have many beautiful mountain homes and cabins available as Airbnbs,” Gallino adds, noting these areas are particularly popular among tourists seeking a more intimate connection with nature.

Housing remains a pressing issue, exacerbated by a post-COVID influx of new residents and the local housing stock not keeping pace with demand. “We’re feeling a very strong pinch in housing availability,” Gallino admits, revealing her involvement in a housing partnership to address this crisis. “We’re working on securing $47 million in grants for various projects, including economic and housing development,” she says. The strategy includes increasing broadband infrastructure to improve connectivity for remote work and local businesses, which is essential in a predominantly rural setting.

The necessity of workforce housing is another critical topic Gallino touches on, particularly for essential service providers like teachers and emergency responders. “We must enable these individuals to live and work in the same area,” she states, noting the broader societal implications of housing affordability and availability. The struggle extends even to county employees, including senior leaders, highlighting the pervasive nature of the housing challenges facing Calaveras County.


Broadening Connectivity and Workforce Development

In rural Calaveras County, strategic planning for broadband and workforce development plays a crucial role in sustaining the community’s economic vitality and catering to its growing population. Gallino discusses the broader framework of their efforts to expand broadband access, emphasizing the importance of cooperation in rural settings.

“We’re part of the Rural Counties Representatives of California, and through this consortium, they have launched the Golden State Connect Authority,” she explains. This collaboration is essential as it leverages collective resources to address common challenges across rural counties. “Our goal with the open access network is to ensure that residents not only have service options but can also afford them. Many residents have limited or no choice, which drives up costs.”

As the conversation shifts to the demographic and economic trends post-COVID, Gallino reflects on the county’s transformation during the pandemic. “Around 40% of those who came to Calaveras to escape the city during COVID have decided to stay,” she notes. This influx has brought a dynamic change in the community, including a remarkable increase in new businesses. “From 2020 to 2023, we issued 900 new business licenses, which surprised us given our small population.”

This spike in new business ventures and the continuing integration of newcomers pose unique challenges and opportunities for local economic development. Gallino shares insights into how these changes are being managed and monitored. “Tracking the longevity and impact of these new businesses will be crucial in understanding our economic trajectory post-COVID,” she states, emphasizing the need for effective data management to support informed decision-making.

Education and workforce development are also at the forefront of the county’s strategic initiatives. “We are heavily invested in our Career Technical Education (CTE) programs and have partnered with Mother Lode job training,” Gallino says. These programs are designed to prepare students for college and high-demand technical and skilled trade careers, crucial for the local economy.

Belli adds an aviation-specific perspective to the workforce discussion, highlighting innovative efforts at the airport to foster education in avionics. “One of our business owners at the airport is pursuing an FAA grant to integrate avionics training into high school curricula,” she reveals. This initiative addresses the aviation industry’s needs by educating a new generation of technicians and engineers in Calaveras County. “Such programs could significantly enhance the readiness of our youth for high-skilled jobs in aviation, where a large support team is essential even before a pilot steps into an aircraft.”

Calaveras County’s Strategic Priorities for 2024

As Calaveras County strides into 2024, its leaders are deeply engaged in strategic planning to amplify resilience, infrastructure, and community engagement. Gallino outlines the focal points for the year.

“We are heavily invested in securing grants for infrastructure enhancements and housing projects,” she says, emphasizing the critical need for robust support systems to withstand the challenges posed by natural events such as wildfires and severe winter storms. “Building resilience within our business community is paramount, ensuring they can remain operational despite potential disruptions.”

The county’s commitment extends beyond immediate needs, addressing long-term sustainability and community welfare. Gallino proudly mentions the airport’s role in supporting pet rescue operations, which is a testament to Calaveras’s community spirit. “Our airport facilitates frequent pet rescue flights, helping to alleviate overcrowded shelters and rehoming animals, which underscores our commitment to humanitarian and community-focused initiatives,” she adds.

The highlight of the county’s community engagement efforts is the annual Airport Day, an event that encapsulates the essence of local camaraderie and public outreach. Belli shares her enthusiasm for the upcoming event, which promises many activities to educate and entertain. “Airport Day is a fantastic opportunity for residents, many of whom are unfamiliar with the airport’s existence, to explore aviation firsthand,” she explains. The event features everything from antique planes and car displays to educational activities and emergency services exhibitions, creating a vibrant community gathering.

These community-focused initiatives, combined with strategic infrastructure projects, illustrate Calaveras County’s comprehensive approach to enhancing the quality of life for its residents while fostering an environment of resilience and engagement. Through careful planning and community involvement, Calaveras aims to address its present needs and pave the way for a sustainable and vibrant future.

Click The Cover To View Or Download The Brochure


Calaveras County and Calaveras County Airport 

What: A town and airport ready to embrace a bright future.

Where: Calaveras County, California



Calaveras Visitors Bureau –

You may also like