“That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The famous quote from
William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet seems to put more emphasis on the essence of the
rose than its name. That wasn’t the case at last week’s Inyo County Board of Supervisors
meeting discussion on an appropriate name for the airport in Bishop.
The facility, now in its first year of official, regular air service, doesn’t even have a distinctive
existence on the Internet. Google “airport in Bishop, California,” and you end up with a blurb
for the Eastern Sierra Regional Airport, with a BIH code, on the right side of the page. Then
there’s an ad for the Travelodge in Bishop. The next official listing is for the
Mammoth/Yosemite Airport. This is not good.
Two years ago, a group petitioned Inyo County to name the facility Bishop-Dave McCoy Airport
after Mammoth Mountain’s founder as an acknowledgement of his impact on both Bishop and
the Eastern Sierra. McCoy lived in Bishop and many of his family members still do. McCoy
championed the Bishop Airport and contributed much to the town, including building, then
donating, a large hangar that currently houses Sierra Life Flight. He passed away in early 2020,
leaving behind the legacy of Mammoth Mountain. The meeting agenda package included seven
letters in support of re-naming the airport after McCoy.
Requests for the name change were submitted to the Northern Inyo Airport Advisory
Committee in 2020. The timing was bad as COVID-19 restrictions had to be defined and the
disruptions from the pandemic dealt with. At a recent meeting, the committee opted to go with
Public comment supported the Bishop-Dave McCoy name. A granddaughter of the Inyo
pioneering Partridge family suggested naming the airport after Partridge.
Supervisor Matt Kingsley, whose District 5 is the southernmost area of Inyo, expressed a
relatively common Inyo attitude toward Mammoth, noting the impact of weekend ski traffic
through the Owens Valley. The flip side: how many Inyo residents were first introduced to the
Owens Valley on a trip from Los Angeles to Mammoth Mountain? Emerging from the endless LA suburbs on Hwy. 14 to views of the Owens Lake and the Inyo Mountains is a little like dying and going to heaven.
Following a brief discussion that included other ways to acknowledge those who contributed to
the development of the airport, the Supervisors directed staff to reach out to Bishop,
Mammoth Lakes, tribal communities and the Bishop Chamber for input and take another look
at the airport’s name in September. The Bishop City Council will likely have the airport name at
its September 20 agenda.