The One about the Fresno Yosemite International Airport

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Back in 1942, during World War II, Hammer Field, an airfield used by the United States Army Air Forces’ Fourth Air Force was founded.

The airfield would be renamed Fresno Air Terminal with one part for travelers and the other for the California Air National Guard 144th Fighter Wing and is known as Fresno Air National Guard Base.

The airport would be feature flights from Trans World Airlines (TWA) and United Airlines for domestic, California flights.

While TWA would leave Fresno in 1963, by 1988 the FAA designated the aiport an “International Point of Entry” and the airport would now included international flights.

In 1996, to attract out-of-state and international visitors to Yosemite National Park and has expanded greatly.

For me, my greatest memories of Fresno Airport (which we knew back then as FAT) was way back in my college years a long time ago in which I would film scenes for my RI series inside the airport.  This is way before 9/11 and when rules were much lax and getting permission was much easier.

But the airport changed considerably after 9/11 and not only is it more secure, the location has expanded to include more flights which is a major plus.

The biggest difference now is that you will find Sequoia Trees to give the airport a more Yosemite feel.  There are a few more shops now than I remembered back then and more car rental offerings.

Possibly the biggest difference is how far you can go in to the airport.  Before, you could be up closer to the current waiting area to watch flights depart and I can remember many times watching family leaving and watching the flight leave through the windows.

Not anymore, you have a checkpoint line for arrivals and departures with security and now you are just limited to the front of the airport.  And this is understandable as 9/11 changed and airline security has become more secure, and so far, my experience at this airport has been great.

And it seems that the flight business is booming in the area as the Fresno Yosemite International Airport had 1,408,922 passengers in 2015, a 21% increase since 2009.  While the record at the airport is 2014 with 1,442,026 passengers.

While the airport is international, the flights do not go directly to Europe or Asia.

The airport has Aeromexico and Volaris going to Guadalajara and Volaris but the majority fo the flights, which are Alaska Airlines operated by Horizon Air, Alaska Airlines operated by SkyWest Airlines, Allegiant Air, American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express going to major destinations such as Portland Oregon, Sand Diego, Phoenix/Mesa, Las Vegas, Seattle/Tacoma, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Denver.

For the most part, flights have been safe with only two accidents, involving an MD-87 Erickson Air Tanker that had an engine failure and a private jet on a military training mission which was probably the more well-known accident as it crashed into a Fresno apartment complex.  But no documented major passenger flight accidents that I could find on the Internet.

For those planning to travel overseas, just remember that the airport recommends arrive three hours prior for International flights, 2 hours prior for domestic flights.

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Dennis A. Amith