Betty Easley (Airport Greeter) took this picture of us departing Hawthorne Nevada
There are few places to stop between Grants Pass and Las Vegas, I choose Hawthorne Industrial Airpark. Upon landing I was greeted by Betty Easley, the Volunteer Airport Greeter. Betty helped us fuel the plane and offered us cool drinks in the terminal. The refrigerator in the pilots lounge was stocked with about every type of soft drink know to man plus frozen food for the microwave and it's all free! In addition she offered us use of a crew car for a trip to town.
I found out Betty has done all of this out of her own pocket so I assumed she has a gold mine hidden in the hills. No, she's just a retired school teacher with a love for pilots and airplanes. When I called in on 122.8 she was at her friends house with an aviation radio and came to the airport to great us. WOW! Big City FBO's take note!
Anyway, Betty told me about the town but I didn't have time to visit so I asked her for a write up with pictures. Here it is!
Hawthorne was first established in April of 1881 as a railroad town to support the gold mines of Aurora and Bodie. The town is located in Mineral County which is a correct name because of the variety of minerals produced over the years in this area. After a major disastrous explosion at Lake Denmark, New Jersey in 1926, the Navy chose Hawthorne, Nevada for construction of the Naval Ammunition Depot to safely produce and store ammunition in a remote area. It was the largest ammunition depot in the world. The government built housing for the civilian workers in the community of Babbitt and by 1944 the population was 14,000. Most of this housing has now been removed. The current population of Hawthorne is around 3,000.
The Navy originally built the airport and eventually deeded it over to Mineral County who now operates the airport through their Public Works Department. There have been upgrades and the major one was an extension to the 10/28 runway to a total of 6,000 ft. Mineral County is currently beginning a new 10 year Master Plan for the airport.
The Hawthorne Industrial Airport is a General Aviation Airport with a variety of aircraft ranging from Light Sport, Single Engine personal aircraft, Turbo Props, Business Jets, Helicopters, and various Military aircraft. At present the traffic is light to moderate and is an excellent facility for flight training landings and takeoffs and is used quite often for that purpose. A visiting pilot seldom has to worry about heavy traffic in the area. There are two courtesy vehicles for transportation when needed to town. The El Capitan Lodge and Casino also has a shuttle that can be called if needed. Every effort is being made to make HTH a friendly place to visit with pilot's needs a priority. The lounge is comfortable with a Wall Chart for reference, an Airport Layout drawing for pilot information, a variety of reading materials and local information, contact information is posted for easy reference, a computer is available for pilot usage, and Wi-Fi for pilots with Wi-Fi devices. A refrigerator is kept stocked with a variety of cold beverages and a microwave for heating hot drinks or other needs. These are furnished as a service.
The fuel is self serve with VISA, Master Card, and Multi-Service cards accepted and is available 24 hours a day. Runway lights key on from dusk to dawn. The AWOS is available at 120.225 and can be reached by telephone ahead if needed at: (775) 945-0727. The UNICOM frequency is 122.800 for general questions and to alert the volunteer greeter to be at the airport to serve visiting pilots.
There is a wide variety of motels, restaurants, and interesting places to see. (Click here for listings.)
The Hawthorne Ordnance Museum is totally done by volunteers and is a constantly expanding inventory of Hawthorne military history and also many other collections connected with the United States military. The displays are well arranged and very well marked with information about them. There is usually people there that have worked with the ordnance and can explain and answer questions.
In 1977 the base was transferred to the Army and it is now called the Hawthorne Army Depot. Ordnance is no longer produced here, but stored, shipped when needed, and destroyed when no longer usable. There is further diversification being done including pre-deployment training of specialized units of the military in the surrounding mountains which are identical to Afghanistan.
Hawthorne prides itself on being "America's Patriotic Home" and supports the military personnel in every way possible. One of the most important celebrations in Hawthorne is the Annual Armed Forces Day activities the third weekend of May. There is something for everyone with a Chili Cook-Off, activities and booths in Lion's Park, water fights between fire departments, a juried art show, outside performances, fireworks at the El Capitan Resort, and most of all, the parade at noon on Saturday. The parade starts with a military fly over and there is a wide variety of entries that take part.