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Richmond’s Rosies get VIP sendoff for trip to meet vice president in Washington, D.C.

In this photo released by Virgin America Airlines, Former Journeyman Welder Phyllis Gould, (center) 92, and original ‘Rosie the Riveters’ from the Bay Area: (L to R) : Marian Wynn (87), Kay Morrison (90), Priscilla Elder (93) (3rd L) Gould and Marian Sousa (88) are joined by Virgin America Captain Kim Gabrelcik (C 2nd row) and First Officer Denise Beringer and Teammates during red carpet reception and sendoff from San Francisco International Airport before they began their journey East for a special invitation meeting with U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, Saturday, March 29, 2014 in San Francisco. The “Rosies” will board VX Flight 1 from SFO to DCA that will be piloted by Virgin America Captain Kim Gabrelcik and First Officer Denise Beringer on an “un-manned” flight. Virgin America donated seats in the airline’s Main Cabin Select premium cabin service for their trip.’Rosie the Riveter’ icon represents the American women who worked in factories that produced war supplies during World War II and were employed as electricians, journeyman welders, draftsman and pipe welders. (Photo by Virgin America/Bob Riha, Jr.)

Virgin America Airlines gave five former World War II defense workers from the Richmond shipyards the VIP treatment as they departed Saturday at San Francisco International Airport for Washington, D.C. and a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden.

The official news release from the airline:

March 29, 2013 – Saturday morning, Virgin America hosted a special red carpet send-off at the departure gate at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) for five original “Rosie the Riveters” from the Bay Area as they began their journey to the White House to meet Vice President Joe Biden. Virgin America sent the “Rosies” off in high-style and donated seats in the airline’s Main Cabin Select premium cabin service for their trip. “Rosie” Phyllis Gould received a special invitation to the White House from the Vice President on Veteran’s Day in a phone call thanking her for her service to the country. The Rosie the Riveter icon represents the American women who worked in factories that produced war supplies during World War II, replacing male workers who were called into service in the military. The Bay Area “Rosies” worked as electricians, journeyman welders, draftsmen and pipe welders at the local Kaiser Shipyard in Richmond, California during World War II, helping to build Liberty and Victory cargo ships. Several of the women still work as docents at the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park.

The five “Rosies” were celebrated at a swing-dancing red carpet reception and sendoff by Virgin America teammates and Chief Marketing Officer, Luanne Calvert, who payed tribute to these pioneering women who paved the way for generations of women workers. The “Rosies” boarded VX Flight 1 from SFO to DCA, piloted by Virgin America Captain Kim Gabrelcik and First Officer Denise Beringer. Virgin America is flying the “Rosies” in its premium Main Cabin Select service that offers guests 38″ of seat pitch, unlimited complimentary cocktails and snacks from the airline’s award-winning menu, an all-access pass to in-flight media content, priority security access/boarding, dedicated overhead bin space and one free checked bag.

Rosie the Riveters head to Washington on Virgin America

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Richmond harbor used for regional park district oil spill training

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The Shoreline Unit of the East Bay Regional Park District held an oil spill training on Wednesday in the water between the Marina Bay Yacht Harbor and Barbara and Jay Vincent Park in Richmond.
Training sessions are not new, but since 2012 have been increased to twice a year by the EBRPD unit as a result of the Cosco Busan oil spill in 2007 and the Dubai Star oil spill in 2009, both of which had consequences for the district’s shoreline parks, said EBRPD fire Capt. Aileen Thiele.
“When something real happens, there are things you prepare for and things you haven’t prepared for,” she said. “We now have formalized training that the unit puts on.”
Two representatives of the state Department of Fish and Game were also involved in the exercise.
The Dubai Star spill resulted in a damage assessment of $850,000 for natural resource restoration and improvements at Crown Beach and other shoreline areas in Alameda.
The Cosco Busan spill reached district shoreline areas in Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Oakland and Richmond.

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Remembering the Berkeley Heliport

An SFO helicopter takes off from the Berkeley Heliport in this Berkeley Chamber of Commerce photo from the early 1960s.

It seems quaint and even hard to imagine in these days of national security and air travel safety restrictions, but Berkeley once had its own heliport where airline passengers could board an SFO 10-passenger Sikorsky helicopter bound for San Francisco or Oakland international airports. Some airlines included the service at low or no cost as part of the airfare.
The heliport was located on the waterfront west of the Eastshore Freeway (Interstate 80) just north of University Avenue and operated from 1961 to 1974, when San Fracncisco Oakland Helicopter Airlines relocated its operation to the roof of the new Holiday Inn in Emeryville.
The Berkeley facility was part of a network of heliports that included downtown Oakland, downtown San Francisco, central Contra Costa and Marin County, and at one time was touted as the most patronized system of its kind in the United States.
The Berkeley Heliport, which the Chamber of Commerce took the lead in attracting and promoting, broke ground in September 1961 and opened later that year. It was touted as a certain economic boon for the city, particularly in attracting conventions.

Dignitaries at the groundbreaking for the Berkeley Heliport in September 1961.

Along with the attraction of avoiding Bay Area freeway traffic and free parking, it offered the novelty of getting to fly over the area in a copter.
A low point for the Berkeley facility came in 1972, when an armed man entered the heliport and demanded to be taken via helicopter to the airport, where he intended to hijack a plane to Cuba. He was eventually talked out of those plans by a Berkeley police sergeant.

Coverage of the attempted 1972 helicopter hijacking in Berkeley.

Dignitaries arrive at the Berkeley Heliport in 1962.

SFO Helicopter Airlines was touted as the world’s busiest in 1962.

Berkeley Chamber of Commerce map of sightseeing destinations includes the heliport (No. 2).

Along with passengers, priority mail was ferried by helicopter to Bay Area airports.

A 1973 ad for SFO Helicopters.

Delta Airlines promoting helicopter service in 1967.

The era of the Berkeley Heliport ended in 1974, when SFO relocated it to Emeryville. SFO ceased operations in 1976.