Earthquake: Oakland Int’l Airport OK, Napa County Airport not

Clean-up is still underway in the wake of the 6.0 magnitude earthquake that shook the Bay Area early Sunday morning, causing at least two hundred injuries, power outages for thousands of customers and damage to many buildings.

In a tweet, officials at the Port of Oakland reported that the South Napa Earthquake (it already has a name), which had its epicenter about 9 miles south of Napa, did no damage to the Oakland International Airport.


But damage was sustained at the Napa County Airport.

“The earthquake blew out most of the windows in the Napa air traffic control tower and the facility is unusable,” said Ian Gregor, the Pacific Division spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. “It could take several weeks to get new windows manufactured and installed.”

Gregor said while there is no obvious damage to the structure, “We will have an engineering assessment done to ensure it is safe. We are also working to secure the equipment inside to prevent it from being damaged by wind or other weather.”

Gregor added that for now the airport will operate as it does when the control tower is closed at night.

“Pilots will get takeoff and landing clearances from Oakland Center, and communicate with each other on the uniform airport frequency to broadcast their positions and intentions,” he said.

He added that efforts are underway to set up a temporary tower to Napa until the permanent tower is repaired and explained that controllers use temporary towers, “which are small cabs on the top of trailers,” at some air shows, while helping out with wildfire fighting operations, and when a permanent tower at a general aviation airport is unusable due to damage or refurbishment or modernization.

(My story about the South Napa Earthquake first appeared on USA TODAY)

Souvenir Sunday: Japanese earthquake relief

Despite the incredible story about an 80-year old woman and her grandson found alive nine days (!) after the earthquake, the news out of Japan just seems to get worse. Relief efforts are extensive – and expensive – so donate some money if you can.

You can donate directly to the American Red Cross through its website or make a $10 donation by texting REDCROSS to 90999 on a cell phone.

Many airlines are encouraging travelers to donate to the Red Cross by offering a mileage bonus as a reward.

Through April 15, 2011 American Airlines AAdvantage members can earn a one-time reward of 250 AAdvantage bonus miles for a minimum $50 donation, or 500 AAdvantage bonus miles for a donation of $100 or more.

Through April 30th, 2011, United Airlines Mileage Plus members can earn a one-time award of 250 Mileage Plus bonus award miles for donations between $50 and $99, and 500 Mileage Plus bonus award miles for a donation of $100 or more.

Through April 30th, 2011, Continental Airlines OnePass members can earn a one-time award of 250 OnePass bonus miles for donations between $50 and $99, or 500 OnePass bonus miles for a donation of $100.

Alaska Airlines, and several other airlines are also encouraging cash donations to the American Red Cross and other relief agencies through through their websites. Delta Air Lines has pledged $1 million in cash and in-kind support to relief efforts and set up a special website for Red Cross donations.

Many airlines also allow you to to donate air miles you’ve already banked to the Red Cross for use by relief workers and volunteers.

Hotels and other travel-related businesses are also encouraging their loyalty plan members to contribute to relief efforts. 

Hilton Hotels is matching donations of HHonors points with a cash donation of up to $250,000. Contributions will go to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Best Western, Starwood, and Marriott are among the hotel groups encouraging the donation of points and cash as well.

Do what you can.

All eyes on Japan

Like everyone else, I’ve been holding my breath waiting for news – and hoping for bits of good news – about the aftermath of the earthquake in Japan.

I’ve also been watching – over and over – the incredible footage of the tsunami racing over the land. Especially the footage captured from Sendai Airport.

Some flights to and from Tokyo’s Narita and Haneda airports are resuming, but getting back to ‘normal’ is still a long way off.  Narita’s website has a very brief update about the Influence of the Earthquake on the airport. Haneda’s website is showing some international flights departing and arriving, but no updates on the status of the airport facilities have been posted.

Resources for travelers affected by Japan earthquake

Here are some links and resources that might be useful as you try to figure out travel plans affected by the earthquake in Japan.

US State Department: travel advisory, links for resources, assistance and updates.

Tokyo Narita Airport

Haneda Airport (Tokyo International Airport)

Google’s Japan Person Finder

Google’s Crisis Response page – good round-up of resources.

Most airlines are canceling flights and offering flight waivers to/from Japan, so check your airline website for updates.


American Airlines

British Airways



Hawaiian Airlines

Japan Airlines


Thai Airways

Singapore Airlines

United Airlines

Honolulu Int’l Airport testing wind power

In October 2006, an earthquake knocked out all the electricity on the island of Oahu and closed down the Honolulu Airport, which had inadequate back-up generators.

Now the state of Hawaii is testing a series of wind turbines that should generate enough power to keep the airport operating should there be another emergency situation.


You can read the details of the project in the Honolulu Advertiser.  But even if you’re not at all interested in kilowatts, turbines and voltage, take a look at the photo gallery that accompanies the article.   As you can see from these photos, those wind turbines are really quite pretty.

honolulu airport wind turbines 2