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Pilots fly out of Corona airport at own risk

December 31, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
It's been more than a week since the Corona Municipal Airport shut down because of flooding and nearly half the airport is still underwater. But that water level is dropping, and more and more of the 3000-foot runway is drying out.

"Where we had 800 feet left open on the runway, now we have about 1,400 or 1,500 feet," said Richard Brodeur, the airport manager.

That's still only about half the runway, but that's enough for some pilots to try to fly out of there. Pilots are being allowed to use the runway at their own risk.

"It's pilot's discretion when they fly out. They have to sign a waiver form then we issue a number, and basically it's their responsibility," said Brodeur.

Pilot Rich Lerma said his aircraft is a little heavier than others so he has to check it before taking off.

"I'm right on the edge, so we'll have a look and we'll see if we can't get it off by the end of the day," said Lerma.

With another storm expected to pass through the area, Lerma can't be blamed for trying to leave.

"The hills are saturated; they can only let so much water out of the dam, so it's really a question of how much water they can release. So with all the saturation, it does present an issue here," said Lerma.

There's still no timeframe on when everything will be back to normal.