HISTORY OF THE
TRUCKEE TAHOE AIRPORT
Truckee Tahoe Airport is an FAA designated public General Aviation Airport. It is situated in Martis Valley approximately two miles southeast of Truckee, California and seven miles north of Lake Tahoe. The airport straddles both Nevada County and Placer County lines and is managed by the Truckee Tahoe Airport District, a bi-county Special District, (1 of 9 Special Airport Districts in California). It attracts aviators, tourists and the general public alike, all looking to enjoy the outdoor Sierra Mountain lifestyle and aviation in general.
Photos Courtesy of Cheryl Lyon, Shenandoah Valley, August 2019
In 1933 an airstrip was cleared near the current agricultural inspection station on I-80. It was used by Boeing as an emergency landing runway for the Trans-Sierra airmail route between San Francisco and Salt Lake City.
In the mid-1950s, a small Chamber of Commerce representing Truckee's business owners was eager to have a modern airport that would bring tourists to the area. By 1958, the 425 square mile Truckee Tahoe Airport District (TTAD) was formed by a vote of the people. The first elected TTAD board, a group of local businessmen, spent their own money and lots of time to obtain initial state and federal funding to build a runway, a terminal building and buy property surrounding the airport.
Today the airport is funded by: local airport commercial enterprises such as aviation fuel sales, aircraft services and fees, and building and hangar leases, along with local property taxes (@ ~ $28/ $100K of appraised value) and grant funding through both the California State and Federal governments.
The airport’s FAA identifier code is “TRK” or “KTRK”. It has two asphalt runways: 11/29 which is 7,000 by 100 ft (2,134 by 30 m) and 2/20 which is 4,650 by 75 ft (1,417 by 23 m). TRK covers 1,200 acres at an elevation of 5,900 ft (1,800 m) above mean sea level. As part of its “open space” campaign, the airport also owns neighboring land consisting of 1,500 acres at Waddle Ranch, 18 acres at Ponderosa Golf course and 14 acres at Tahoe City Golf Course.
In the year ending December 31, 2017 the airport had 33,580 aircraft operations: 14,978 Piston engine, 1,145 Piston Twin, 6,942 Turbo Prop, 4,140 Jet, 1,229 Helicopter and 5,146 Glider operations. That equates to an average of 92 operations per day, (though the heaviest aircraft traffic is typically over holiday weekends and busy periods during the summer and winter peak tourist seasons with the record being 532 operations in one day). There is a voluntary, but strongly requested flying curfew between 10pm and 7am as part of the airport's good neighbor policy.
A new terminal building built in 2012 includes such amenities as a pilot lounge, a pilot kitchen, a flight planning room, public meeting rooms, a customer service/UNICOM desk and the popular Red Truck Café (open Mon-Sat 9-3). Families can come enjoy the children's playground and park adjacent to the terminal building.
Aircraft services include fuel, (100LL and Jet A+) which are available 7am - 7pm, and self-serve 100LL from 7am - 9pm. Ramp services such as GPU, LAV, TUG and Potable Water are also available 7am-5pm. There are 210 paved tie-downs for transient parking. The Airport has 230 hangars, (198 T-Hangars and 32 Executive or larger box hangars).
On-field business Sierra Aero can be found in Hangar 1 and offers; flight instruction, aircraft rentals, pre- heating, oxygen services and aircraft maintenance. Sky diving and soaring operations are also available at KTRK.
Of significance to airman: KTRK frequencies are AWOS 118.0, TOWER/CTAF 120.575, GROUND 118.3, UNICOM/FBO 122.95 and OAKLAND CENTER 127.95. Check our website for general airport information and tower operational hours at www.TruckeeTahoeAirport.com. At runway elevations of ~5,900 ft (1,800 m), traffic pattern altitude is 7,000 ft (2,100 m) for light aircraft, and 7,500 ft. (2,286 m) for faster moving turbo props and jets. Both runways are lighted. Runway lights are available with 3 keys on 120.575 after sunset. VASI lights on approach to RWY 20 can be activated 24hrs per day with 3 keys on 120.575. Downdrafts can occur on final to RWY 20. Glider pilots use left traffic RWY 20. Powered aircraft use right traffic RWY 20. REIL strobes are located on the approach end of RWY 11. Pilots need to radio or call UNICOM/FBO to request REIL activation. Density altitude can exceed 9,000 ft (2,700 m) in summer months. 5 real-time DA reminder signs are located around the field. The UNICOM Customer Service phone number is (530) 587-4119 extension 100 or radio 122.95.
The airport is attended seven days a week, 7am - 9pm. Snow removal equipment is operated round-the-clock as needed. No de-icing services are currently available at TRK.
Come visit us at Truckee Tahoe Airport! Pilots, please fly safe, follow our Good Neighbor “Noise
Abatement” procedures and be aware of our high altitude mountain flying conditions.
By: Marc Lamb, Aviation & Community Services Manage
Additional History of Tahoe Truckee Airport
Jerry Blackwill: The history of aviation in Truckee and Donner Summit
Aviation Climes to New Heights
A Look Behind the Curtain at the Airport District's Community Benefit Funding
An Early History of Truckee Tahoe Airport
History of Truckee Intermediate Field
Sierra Air Mail Pilots, Heroes of the Sky
Claire Vance Pioneer Sierra Pilot Extraordinaire