Friday, July 3, 2015

The President's Trip to Santa Catalina Island

The President's Trip to Santa Catalina Island

The Casino in Avalon on Catalina Island 

Type of Activity
 Boat Excursion to Santa Catalina Island
 Santa Catalina Island CA
Date of Activity
 August 28 and 29 1971
 33° 23′ 0″ N, 118° 25′ 0″ W

28 and 29Aug 1971 to Santa Catalina Island CA   

Santa Catalina Island, often called Catalina Island, is a rocky island off the coast of California. The island is 22 miles (35 km) long and 8 miles (13 km) across at its greatest width. Catalina Island is located about 22 miles (35 km) south-southwest of Los Angeles, California.
The total population as of the 2010 census was 4,096 people, 90 percent of whom live in the island's only incorporated city, Avalon. There are only two ways that you can travel to the Island, by boat or by flying into the Airport in the Sky. When WHCA made their radio survey of southern California and Orange County it was discovered that a site on Catalina Island would line of sight to cover all of the beach areas from San Clemente, Laguna Beach, and north to Newport Beach. Most of the Senior Staff, Staff, and representatives of the Press would stay in these beach cities while they visited the Western White House.
We installed radios on Blackjack Mountain which is the second highest point on the island, at 2,010 feet, inside a fenced-off AT&T communications installation. Over the period of time that I spent working in San Clemente we made numerous trips by helicopter to Catalina island to perform preventive maintenance on the radio base stations and make sure that we had sufficient coverage should the President visit Avalon.

 Black Jack Mt. radio site

.WHCA radio site overlooking Catalina Airport
To the best of my recollection the President and Mrs. Nixon choppered on Marine One to Catalina Island on Jan 8 1971 and they were greeted by the Mayor of Santa Catalina, Harvey Cowells. The President toured the Island and then after only a few hours departed on Marine One and returned to San Clemente.

Approaching Catalina Island's Airport in the Sky
Airport in the Sky Main Terminal
On Aug 28, 1971 the President accompanied by Mr. C.G. (BEBE) Rebozo departed the Western White House on Army One in route to Newport Beach CA. Landing at the Newporter Inn helipad. The President, and Mr. Rebozo, motored from the Newporter Inn to the Balboa Bay Club, also in Newport Beach. This is where the Mojo was docked.

The Newporter Inn in Newport Beach CA
Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach CA
For twenty plus years the “Mojo” was berthed at the Balboa Bay Club. Prior to and during the Presidency of Richard Nixon enjoyed cruising the harbor aboard the “Mojo.” It was amusing to watch the Secret Service follow along in much smaller boats to ensure the President’s security. The President was greeted by Frank Muller, retired Los Angeles businessman and owner of the yacht Mojo. Also on board were the Presidents Dr., his personal staff and the Military Aide.

The President on board the Mojo enroute to Santa Catalina Island
 The Presidential party cruised from the Balboa Bay Club Newport Beach, California via Avalon Bay, Santa Catalina Island, California, to Jew Fish Point, Santa Catalina Island, California.

The President, and Mr. Rebozo, went ashore to swim from the beach at Jew Fish Point, When the President and Mr. Rebozo returned to the Mojo they were joined by television writer and producer Paul, W. Keyes. 

Once aboard they cruised along the eastern coast of Catalina Island, and finally the Mojo anchored for the night at White Cove, Santa Catalina Island, California. The Secret Service agents guarding the President followed him everywhere never losing sight of him.

Avalon Bay at Catalina Island
         One of the secluded beaches along the Catalina coast
 The next morning the Presidential party cruised along the northwest shore line of Santa Catalina Island aboard the Mojo they then cruised to San Pedro Harbor, California where they had lunch. They then cruised to the Newport Beach Coast Guard dock, Newport Beach, California.

The President shook hands and chatted with people in the crowd which included Coast Guard personnel, press reporters and photographers and got into the Limo and motored back to the Newporter Inn and immediately departed on Army One for the Western White House.

Radio Coverage tor the two days that the President was flawless, the installation of radios on Catalina Island really paid off on this trip!