As a boy fascinated by all things aviation, one of my favorite places to hang out was the Livermore airport (KLVK). It had an unusual number of warbirds—Clay Klabo, Jack Hovey, and Bob Love all had Mustangs there. Later, when I became a pilot myself, I based there for over ten years—until relocating to the Reno area—and to this day Livermore remains one of my favorite airports.
Livermore, California (KLVK), sits just east of the Oakland/Hayward Hills, which separate the town from the San Francisco Bay Area proper. Because it’s “over the hills,” Livermore often has decent weather when the San Francisco Bay is socked in. This makes it an important reliever airport to the Bay Area, particularly as an alternate for IFR arrivals.
The airport’s predecessor, Livermore Sky Ranch, started out as an auxiliary to Livermore Naval Air Station (now the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory). After World War II, the Navy passed the title to the city, and in 1958 a study was ordered to select a site for a new airport. The current location was chosen, and Livermore Sky Ranch was sold off for commercial development. Livermore Municipal Airport was completed in December of 1965.
My favorite stuff in Livermore
If you’re looking for recreation, the airport is adjacent to Las Positas public golf course. The course is home to one of my favorite airport watering holes: Beeb’s—a well-stocked sports bar serving American comfort food. The food and drink are great, and there are dozens of screens to watch while relaxing after an afternoon of golf. Livermore still houses many classic and WWII warbird aircraft, including a P-40, quite a few P-51s, and several AT-6s, among others.
Decades ago, when I first moved to Livermore, it was a genuine “cow town” with only a single good restaurant. These days, Livermore has a wine country worthy of the Napa Valley—a well-kept secret. First Street in downtown Livermore is made for walking, with dozens of locally owned restaurants offering a wide variety of high-quality cuisine. You’ll find Asian, Indian, Italian, African, Cajun, and everything in between.
If you’re interested in an overnight, there are hotels adjacent to the airport and, of course, many wineries to choose from. One of my favorite spots—just a short Uber ride from the airport—is pretty unique: the Campo di Bocce. This restaurant sits right across the street from the Ruby Hill winery and offers bocce ball courts and delicious Sunday brunch offerings.
There’s always something fun going on
The Livermore Airport hosts several events throughout the year. On the last weekend in May, for example, the Collings Foundation brings in their B-24, B-17, and dual control P-51C. The airport’s annual open house and airshow is held on the first Saturday of October. Vintage Display Days are an opportunity for pilots to meet and showcase their vintage aircraft to the public. These displays happen the last weekend of March, April, May, June, September, and October. And, if you need one more reason to drop by Livermore, the “meal deal” is a popular fundraising event for the annual open house. That takes place every Thursday from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Five Rivers Aviation during the months of February, March, April, June, August, and September. Members of the Airport Commission grill hot dogs, hot links, and chicken sausage for just $6, and that comes with your chips and a drink. What a deal!
Livermore is an important San Francisco Bay Area reliever airport with lots to offer as a leisure destination. I know I’m not the only one who counts it as one of their favorites!