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OC Fair & Event Center continues work to bring A-4 Skyhawk jet to Heroes Hall

A rendering shows how the A-4 Skyhawk jet currently located at the Santa Ana Civic Center could look if moved to the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa. In the background is the fairgrounds’ Heroes Hall veterans museum.
(Courtesy of OC Fair & Event Center)

Officials at the OC Fair & Event Center are continuing their work to bring a Vietnam War-era jet in for a soft landing at a new home near the Heroes Hall veterans museum.

Orange County Fair Board members Thursday gave their initial thoughts on how best to incorporate the A-4 Skyhawk aircraft into the Costa Mesa fairgrounds property and authorized staff to move ahead with identifying a firm to do the architectural and engineering work associated with the planned installation.

“We want to make this look like it was always planned that way and this isn’t an afterthought,” said board member Doug La Belle, who’s been spearheading the effort. “This board spent significant dollars in creating Heroes Hall several years back and what we want to do here is make sure that this looks like it’s integrated into that whole facility.”

Topping the early wish list for the board and members of the public were educational materials such as plaques or storyboards that would detail the history of this kind of plane and how it connects to Orange County. Attractive, functional landscaping and accessible seating also were identified as desired components.


“One of the issues with the way it’s displayed now at the [Santa Ana] Civic Center is that it’s just, like, an airplane on a stick and there’s not a lot of information about the meaning,” said fairgrounds activist Reggie Mundekis. “So in the next coming months, we want to think about, ‘How are we going to curate this?’”

The Fair & Event Center, which has budgeted $100,000 for the project, is still working with the county to hammer out an official agreement to relocate the plane and hopes to finalize that soon, according to Vice President of Operations Ken Karns.

“I don’t think there’s anyone that isn’t committed to getting to the finish line,” Karns said.

Recording board meetings

Thursday also saw a significant step toward realizing what has long been raised as a priority by some residents and community activists: video recording Fair Board meetings.


On an 8-0 vote, with member Gerardo Mouet absent, the board directed staff to study options for video recording and live-streaming meetings and to bring them for consideration at a future date.

“It’s about time we do get with the times and start doing this,” said board Chairman Robert Ruiz.

Some regular meeting attendees have long decried the lack of audio or video recording, saying it forces members of the public to go to meetings to keep tabs on what’s happening at the public property. Fair Board meetings start at 9 a.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month, a schedule that critics say is at best inconvenient and at worst unworkable for many.

Board members said recording their meetings would not only give the public better access to the proceedings but also provide an accurate record they could refer to if needed.

“With a budget of our size, there’s just no reason why we can’t be as transparent as possible,” said board member Ashleigh Aitken.