Marin County’s Gateway to the United States
Gnoss Field/Marin County Airport
Gnoss Field (FAA identifier KDVO) started out in 1948 as Wright Field, a sleepy private landing strip that was home to 25 Piper Cubs, Aeronca Champs, and other staples of the post-war era. In 1960 Marin County supervisor Bill Gnoss persuaded the County to purchase Wright Field, re-orient and pave its one runway and build two large hangars to attract aviation businesses. Currently, Gnoss Field is home to 200+ planes ranging from vintage Piper J3 Cubs, to top-of-the line turboprops such as the Pilatus PC-12, Cessna Citation business jets and state of the art composite Cirrus aircraft.
Big Economic Impact/No Cost to Taxpayers
According to an economic impact study done by the Marin Economic Forum in December 2015, the airport is self-sufficient; all day-to-day operational expenses are paid for by the tenants and users of the airport. In fact, Gnoss Field’s operations pay for approximately $100,000 expenses for other County departments each year, and airport property taxes contribute over $250,000 annually to the Novato Unified School District, and another $250,000 to the County general fund. All told, Gnoss Field contributes tens of millions of dollars each year to the Marin economy through direct income from businesses at Gnoss, property taxes collected, tourism generated, and downstream economic activity. It’s important to note, also, that improvements at the airport are financed by grants through the FAA’s Airport Improvement Fund, which is itself funded solely by surcharges on aviation fuel.
Beyond its economic contributions,
Gnoss Field plays a crucial part in the national transportation infrastructure. While there are less than 400 airports that host airline operations (Gnoss Field is not and can never be one of those), there are over 4,800 public use general aviation (non-airline, non-military) airports across the U.S. These airports provide direct access to thousands of smaller communities for business, air taxi, emergency medical, firefighting, patient and organ transport “Angel” flights, Civil Air Patrol search and rescue missions, law enforcement operations, pet rescue and relocation flights, mosquito control and, of course, pleasure flying.
One week’s flights from Gnoss Field
In recent years, local airports have been on the front line in fighting wildfires in northern California. In 2018 CalFire temporarily based firefighting helicopters at Gnoss Field to help fight the Woodward Fire near Pt. Reyes. In 2023 the Marin Fire Department began a pilot program with PG&E to base a firefighting helicopter at Gnoss Field for the entire fire season, providing a 15-minute response anywhere in the county to meet CalFire’s goal of keeping all wildfires under 5 acres. This is an enormous benefit for Marin same the same natural, undeveloped land that provides such beauty also poses serious wildfire risks to our residents, homes, and businesses.
In October 1989 pilots from Marin formed an informal airlift of supplies to Watsonville, which had been unreachable by road after the Loma Prieta earthquake. Since 2018 Gnoss Field has hosted the North Bay Disaster Airlift Response Team (DART), part of a state-wide organization trained to ICS standards, and prepared both to provide and receive assistance in such disasters as part of the larger, official emergency response.
The Gnoss Field Community Association (GFCA)
GFCA is comprised of tenants, users and neighbors of Gnoss Field, and was formed to bring these parties together for the common good. We’re not just a pilots’ organization; “community” is part of our name, and everyone is welcome to come to our breakfast meetings which are held the second Saturday of each month. One of GFCA’s main purposes is to educate Marin citizens about the jewel in their midst. It is at once an economic engine, transportation hub, educational facility and entertainment center, and we want everyone to come out and see their airport. Contact us at email@example.com and we’ll be happy to arrange a meeting and show you around your airport!