Aviation Response To 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake

Loma PrietaWatsonville Municipal Airport - Image: Dan Dawson/ Public Domain

Aviation Response To 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake

On October 17, 1989, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake severely shook the San Francisco and Monterey Bay regions. The epicenter was located near Loma Prieta peak in the Santa Cruz Mountains, approximately 9 miles northeast of Santa Cruz and 60 miles south-southeast of San Francisco. The Watsonville Airport became the airlift and rescue response center showing the versatility and usefulness of General Aviation in concert with emergency management agencies and outfits and volunteers.

Watsonville Municipal Airport – Image: Dan Dawson/ Public Domain

With the seismologic event ended decades of tranquility in the San Francisco Bay region. It was a wake-up call to prepare for the potentially even more devastating shocks that are inevitable in the future.

Since 1989, the work of the U.S. Geological Survey and other organizations has improved understanding of the seismic threat in the Bay region, promoted awareness of earthquake hazards, and contributed to more effective strategies to reduce earthquake losses.

Below is a 5 minute video created by Arlo Reeves, which highlights the efforts that made such a big difference for residents and survivors of the earthquake. What we see developing today on the west coast with DARTS, DARPS, EVAC and pilot groups moving together to combine and streamline resources isn’t exactly new…

If you are looking to get involved as a volunteer pilot or wish to support these groups with your knowledge and expertise in emergency response, we encourage you to reach out to our Emergency & Disaster Response Editor – Sky Terry or visit the Air Care Alliance website.

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