Catalina Island Conservancy Announces a $1.5 Million Naming Gift from ACE Clearwater for the Airport in the Sky Runway Repairs

Jan. 28, 2019

The Catalina Island Conservancy today announced that ACE Clearwater Enterprises, a Torrance-based aerospace and power generation manufacturing company, is donating a $1.5 million naming gift to the Airport in the Sky Runway Repair Project.

The donation will help pay for the concrete, transportation and other costs incurred by the Conservancy, a nonprofit land trust, to replace the runway’s aging asphalt surface. Because of the condition of the runway, the airport the Conservancy owns and operates was at risk of being closed to the public, threatening deliveries by air of freight as well as flights by first responders and recreational pilots.

“We are so very grateful to ACE Clearwater Enterprises’ employees and its leadership, Tim Dodson and Kellie and Gary Johnson, for this very generous gift to the Airport Runway Repair Project,” said Tony Budrovich, Conservancy president and CEO. “We launched our fundraising for this $5 million project in October, and with their leadership and the generosity of so many others, we are well on our way to raising the funds needed to pay for repairing the runway.”

Kellie Johnson serves as the chair of the Catalina Island Conservancy’s Board of Directors, and she and her husband, Gary, are residents of Avalon. Kellie Johnson and her father, Tim Dodson, are the owners of ACE Clearwater Enterprises, a family owned and operated company that has been in business in Southern California for more than 60 years, and Gary Johnson serves as the firm’s vice president.  

“At ACE, we like to say that if it flies, we have parts on it,” Kellie Johnson said. “Our employees are the best men and women in the business, and 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.”

Runway repairs are underway at the Airport in the Sky, thanks to an innovative partnership with the US Marine Corps and Navy. More than 100 Marines and Sailors (Seabees) arrived earlier this month and plan to live in tents at their airport until late March. They are working six days a week, weather permitting, to replace the 3,000-foot runway’s asphalt surface with concrete as a valuable training opportunity to prepare the troops to work in a remote location with difficult logistics. The partnership is part of the Department of Defense’s Innovative Readiness Training Program (IRT), which matches community needs with military training opportunities.

“This airfield is a vital asset to Catalina Island in so many ways,” said Kellie Johnson. “The amazing partnership between the Catalina Island Conservancy, Marine Corps and Navy is a perfect example of working together to improve our Island. We are very proud to be a part of the effort.”