Gillespie field supports a well-maintained, controlled environment that also includes an FAA control tower. Unlike many other airports, Gillespie is not hectic or overly-busy. This means more flight time for you, plus you’ll gain extensive experience with control tower radio communications. California Flight Academy has occupied a prominent position on the field since 1973, located in the main terminal building near the transient aircraft parking area and a few hundred feet from the control tower.

History of Gillespie Field

Gillespie Field was named for Marine Lieutenant Archibald H. Gillespie, special messenger to President Polk during the period of annexation of California in the 1800s. The airport began its life as a Marine Corps parachutist training facility during the height of World War II in 1942.

Following the war, San Diego County leased the airport from the Marines and converted it to a public use facility, developing it much the way it stands today. In 1952, the Federal Government granted the county ownership of the airport, and it became the first and largest of the eight airports currently owned and operated by San Diego County.

In 1971, the San Diego County Sheriff’s department stationed their Aerial Support to Regional Enforcement Agencies (ASTREA) at the airport. In 1993 the San Diego Aerospace Museum located its restoration operations and a special exhibit at the field.

In addition to the airport, Gillespie Field includes two business parks which provide more than 2,000 jobs for the city of El Cajon and a $40 million/year boost to the local economy. The Gillespie Airport is not only home to California Flight Academy, but also repair and maintenance shops, aircraft storage, food and beverage services, fueling stations, instrument and avionics shops, rental cars and aircraft sales and rental services.

Flight school students find Gillespie Field, and CFA’s location next to the primary taxi ways, ideal for training. Gillespie is a controlled airport where students can learn the art of working with Air Traffic Control in a low-stress environment and at a pace ideal for new pilots.

We invite you to start your pilot pathway at CFA today by completing the Request Information Form above or by calling us directly at (619) 448-2212.