By Promise Yee
The airfield at Oceanside Municipal Airport was named after Tuskegee Airman Bob Maxwell. Friends said aviation was his life. Photo by Promise Yee
OCEANSIDE — Tuskegee Airman pilot Bob Maxwell was honored with having the airfield at Oceanside Municipal Airport named in his memory March 9.
Maxwell worked to help keep the Municipal Airport open when the city was considering repurposing the site several years ago.
“I met Bob Maxwell when we were trying to save the airport,” Councilman Jerry Kern said. “He was always involved. His life was aviation.”
Maxwell was born in 1922. He grew up in Bronx, N.Y., and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from City College of New York. He also completed civilian pilot training and earned a commercial pilot license.
Maxwell worked as an installation engineer for the aeronautical division of the Curtis Wright Corporation in New Jersey.
He then joined the Army Air Corps and was trained as a B-25 bomber pilot in Tuskegee, Ala.
After the war, Maxwell returned to Wright Aeronautical and worked on the design and development of turbojet and ramjet engines. He earned a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration from UCLA.
His involvement with engineering and aeronautics continued as he served as director of the Office of Systems Engineering for the U.S. Department of Transportation, transportation manager for the Office of Technology Assessment of the U.S. Congress, vice president of Superior Engineering and Electronics, and instructor of entrepreneurship and transportation planning at UCSD Extension.
He also served on the board of directors for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, the San Diego Air and Space Museum, and University Council at California State University, San Marcos.
Maxwell further served on the Oceanside Transportation Committee, the San Diego Airports Advisory Committee and San Diego Regional Transportation Technology Alliance.
He was president and board member of the San Diego Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, and received the Congressional Gold Medal for his service during World War II.
Maxwell passed away in August 2010 at age 88.
The dedication ceremony officially renamed the airfield and unveiled a monument sign and plaque that bare the airfield’s new name.
“It was highly fitting,” Kern said. “Bob Maxwell contributed to the community and airport.”
“He had a tremendous life and gave a lot back,” Kern added.
The plaque will be installed on the terminal building after it is remodeled.
There are also plans to build two new hangers and redo the runway at the general aviation airport. Long-term plans for the airport include building an airport restaurant and additional hangers.