Lake Tahoe Airport (IATA: TVL, ICAO: KTVL, FAA LID: TVL) is a public airport three miles southwest of South Lake Tahoe, in El Dorado County, California.
Located on the south end of Lake Tahoe, the airport is located 6,264 feet above mean sea level (MSL). Its single runway (18-36) is 8,544 feet long by 150 feet wide. There are mountains off the south end of the runway that tower up to more than 10,000 feet MSL. The rapidly rising terrain forms a restricting funnel that can trap the unwary pilot flying a marginally performing aircraft southbound. The airport can be challenging with unpredictable weather and harsh terrain but, still an amazing airport to fly at. Several aviation magazines routinely list KTVL in the top 10 USA General Aviation airports to visit.
Beginning in 1962 it had a few airline flights: the first were on Futura Airlines, an intrastate airline, and on Paradise Airlines, both flying Lockheed L-049 Constellations. According to the Official Airline Guide, six regional and commuter airlines were serving Lake Tahoe in spring 1981 including Air Sierra, Aspen Airways, Cal Sierra Airlines, Golden Gate Airlines, Golden West Airlines and Great Sierra Airlines with a combined total of up to 24 flights a day. The April 1, 1981 OAG edition lists nonstop flights from Burbank, Fresno, Los Angeles, Oakland, Orange County, Reno, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose and Truckee, CA. Due to budget cuts in 2001, the FAA ceased funding on-site weather observers who had also served as the airport's air traffic controllers. Unable to find replacement funding, the South Lake Tahoe city council voted to close the airport's Air Traffic Control Tower on October 1, 2004. Despite the tower's closure, the airport continues to serve general aviation traffic using self-announce procedures for uncontrolled airports. Beginning in 2006, the airport's former commercial airline terminal building was renovated and converted into a new city hall and administrative services office for the City of South Lake Tahoe. Relocating to airport land allowed the city to counter rising lease costs at their old location near Al-Tahoe. Renovations completed and the new city hall opened in 2007.
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