• Review: Orbx - Fresno Yosemite International Airport

    Review: Orbx - Fresno Yosemite International Airport

    By Andrew Parish

    Having been given the opportunity to review Orbx's Northern California scenery, it made complete sense to take on a review of their newly released Fresno Yosemite International Airport. At least it did until, being neither a Fresnan, a Californian nor an American, I realised that I knew even less about Fresno than I did about Northern California when I started on that adventure!

    So, treading a path that is becoming increasingly well worn, I embarked upon a process of research into the subject matter at hand in the hope that it would provide some insight, and perhaps a structure, to the review that I was about to undertake.

    And I wasn't disappointed with where that path took me...

    A Bit Of History

    Present day Fresno Yosemite International Airport started its life as a military airport in June 1942, just six months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It was named "Hammer Field" and the field, with its longer 7200 foot runway (the present runway 11L/29R) and a shorter 5000 foot east-west runway (07/25) was used as a training facility for the Fourth Air Force which was responsible for the defense of the Southwest and Lower-Midwest regions of the US.

    After the end of the Second World War, it was dismissed as a military facility and handed over to the city, which embraced the opportunity to develop the airfield into a commercial facility with construction starting in 1946 on the north-eastern side of the field. Until then, Chandler Field, just 2.4 km west of downtown Fresno was the destination for commercial operations but it was becoming outgrown by increasingly larger airliners. In 1948, the newly named "Fresno Air Terminal" - the origin of the IATA and ICAO airport identifiers FAT and KFAT respectively - opened, with TWA and United moving their San Francisco and Los Angeles flights from Chandler Field to the new facility.

    Orbx - Fresno Yosemite International Airport
    Figure 1 - Chart of Hammer Field, 1945 - from www.militarymuseum.org

    In the 1950s, the military in the form of the California Air National Guard returned to an area on the southeast of the field. Shortly afterwards, in 1956, the 11R/29L parallel runway was built on the south side of the original. At the same time the original 11L/29R was extended to its present day 9340 feet and the east-west runway decommissioned, although parts of it remain visible today.

    Development of the airport as a commercial facility continued in around 1959 with new construction on the south side of the field, and whilst they have been through a number of facelifts and renovations since, it is this these buildings that remain the basis of today's passenger terminal.

    Present Day

    The name "Fresno Yosemite International Airport" was adopted in 1996 with the aim of increasing the number of international flights coming to the city.

    Orbx - Fresno Yosemite International Airport
    Figure 2 - The sign welcoming visitors to Fresno Yosemite International Aiport

    Despite the name change, the airport failed to attract the international flights for almost ten years until Mexicano Airlines started its international service linking Fresno with Mexico City. At the same time the airport petitioned for its designation of FAT to be changed because of the negative implications, but this request was refused by the FAA.

    Today, Fresno Yosemite International Airport serves almost two million passengers a year. Its location makes it the primary commercial airport for the San Joaquim Valley, and the Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

    In addition to its commercial operations, it remains and has become home to various military and government organisations ranging from the California Air National Guard and the California Army National Guard, through the US Forest Service and California Department of Forestry, to police departments including the California Highway Patrol, the Fresno County Sheriff's Office and the Fresno Police Department.

    Looks like there's going to be plenty to see then...

    Tags: fresno, orbx, yosemite

    1 Comment
    1. raycar's Avatar
      raycar -
      Airport graphics are wonderful but the trees are 4 sided graphics which look awful.
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