SMO — Organizers postponed indefinitely a long-awaited event meant to show off the appeal of the Santa Monica Airport Wednesday just three days before it was supposed to take place.
Airport staff were worried that the event would draw too many people, and overwhelm the security personnel, said Robby Robotham, president of Friends of the Santa Monica Airport (FOSMO), the group putting on the event.
“The Day at the Airport” was supposed to begin with lunch at noon and feature classic airplanes, live music, displays, talks with professionals about careers at the airport and free airplane rides for kids ages 8 to 17.
Day at the Airport has been on the radar since late 2010, when the group first planned to sync it with the re-opening of the Museum of Flying.
When that project hit delays, FOSMO chose to go ahead with the celebration.
“The committee was excited to move forward,” Robotham said.
Though FOSMO produced flyers and put up an RSVP system on their website, it wasn’t until they took out an advertisement in the Santa Monica Daily Press that airport officials got worried.
Any gathering that draws over 150 people needs a special event permit from City Hall, which FOSMO didn’t have. FOSMO specifically did not put information into the local paper until a few days before kickoff to try to keep the numbers low, Robotham said.
“We waited to do it and apparently caught the attention of city staff and the airport,” he said. “They were worried that with the promotions in the paper, a lot of people might respond and there wouldn’t be enough staff to control the anticipated crowds.”
Airport Manager Robert Trimborn confirmed that the advertisement Wednesday sparked fears that an overwhelming number of people would come for the food, fun and free airplane rides.
“They needed to go through a special event permit process, and we thought it was better to postpone it,” Trimborn said.
It’s unclear at this point when FOSMO will be able to try to put the event on again, but it will be better than it was before, Robotham promised.
The airport has drawn considerable attention over the last two weeks after a plane being flown by a student pilot crashed into a Sunset Park home located just a few blocks west of SMO on Aug. 29. The cause of the crash is still under investigation. The pilot survived, suffering a broken leg.