Charlie Chaplin’s older half brother, Syd Chaplin, formed one of the first scheduled airlines in the United States. From 1919 to 1920 they provided transportation between Los Angeles and Catalina Island.
Catalina's Airport in the Sky
Catalina Island's only airport is privately owned and located 10 miles from Avalon, a 30 minute drive and 13 miles from Two Harbors, a 45 minute drive. The airport is open the public and is primarily used for general aviation. Freight aircraft arriving from the mainland also use the Airport in the Sky. There are no scheduled passenger flights to and from Catalina Island. The airport sits 1,600 feet above sea level, one of the highest points on Catalina Island.
The Airport in the Sky is home to DC-3 Grill and Gifts, a restaurant and gift shop featuring Buffalo burgers, sandwiches and world famous cookies. The Skyline Drive Tour stops at the Airport in the Sky for 30 minutes. Plenty of time to shop, have lunch or visit the Nature Center. You can also get to the Airport on the Safari Bus or by hiking or biking up.
The Airport in the Sky was commissioned by the Wrigley Family. The airport officially opened in 1946. Two mountain tops were leveled and the remaining canyon filled in to create the 3,200 foot runway. Construction of the runway began in 1940 and was nearly complete when Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941. Because of World War II, construction was halted and the airfield, along with the rest of Catalina Island, was leased to the United States Government for $1 per year. The runway was covered with debris so that enemy aircraft would not be able to use it as a base. After the island was returned to the Wrigley Family and the Santa Catalina Island Company, paving of the runway and completion of the tower and terminal building commenced.