Catalina's Airport in the Sky (photo via

Catalina's Airport in the Sky (photo via

Torrance aerospace firm Ace Clearwater Enterprises is donating $1.5 million towards the cost of runway repairs at Catalina Island’s Airport in the Sky, giving it naming rights to the airfield.

According to the Jan. 28 announcement from the Catalina Island Conservancy, the nonprofit land trust that owns and operates the airfield, the donation will help pay for concrete, transportation and other costs incurred by the Conservancy, to replace the runway’s aging asphalt surface.

The $5 million runway repair project – in partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy – is currently under way with more than 100 Seabees and other military personnel onsite. Weather permitting, the work is scheduled for completion in March.

The Airport in the Sky, which opened in 1946, provides air access to Catalina Island for first responders, travelers, residents and businesses. The airport is the island’s hub for mail and freight service. The Catalina Island Conservancy took over its operation in 1972.

Ace Clearwater Enterprises was founded more than 60 years ago and has remained a family-owned business, now co-owned by Tim Dodson and his daughter, Kellie Johnson, who also is chair of the Catalina Island Conservancy’s board of directors.

“At ACE, we like to say that if it flies, we have parts on it,” Johnson said in the announcement. “We are excited to have the opportunity to add the name Ace Clearwater Airfield to the Conservancy’s Airport in the Sky. This is a great legacy for our family and the ACE team whose hard work and ‘attitude committed to excellence’ have made this donation possible.”

Conservancy Chief Executive Tony Budrovich expressed gratitude for the donation.

“We launched our fundraising for this $5 million project in October, and with the leadership of Ace Clearwater Enterprises…and the generosity of so many others, we are well on our way to raising the funds needed to pay for repairing the runway.”

Education, energy, engineering/construction and infrastructure reporter Howard Fine can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.

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