Skip to main content

Airport Management

Brown Field Municipal Airport

Brown Field Municipal Airport 100 Years1424 Continental St., San Diego, CA 92154



Brown Field Municipal is located 1.5 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border in the Otay Mesa community of the City of San Diego. The airport, originally named East Field in honor of Army Maj. Whitten J. East, opened in 1918 when the U.S. Army established an aerial gunnery and aerobatics school in order to relieve congestion at North Island.

Maj. East completed flight training at the Army Signal Corps Station, Rockwell Field on North Island before flying over the front lines in France during World War I. He was killed in an auto accident in 1918 while in command of Mitchel Field in New York at the age of 25.

From 1918-1919, pilots flying the Curtis JN-4D Jenny trained at East Field. After World War I, the military maintained control of East Field for touch-and-go landings and radio-controlled target drone experiments.

In 1943, the U.S. Navy took over the airfield and changed the name to Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) Otay Mesa. Later that year, the name was changed again to NAAS Brown Field in honor of Navy Commander Melville S. Brown, who was killed in a plane crash near Descanso, Calif., in 1936. Lt. Cmdr. Brown had served as the commanding officer of the USS Truxtun (DD-229) when the ship was commissioned in 1921, and later was the executive officer of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-2). Between 1943 and 1946, the Army and Navy utilized NAAS Brown Field for training in various aircraft, including the P-38 Lightning, F4F and FM1 Wildcat, TBF and TBM Avenger, F6F Hellcat and PB4Y Privateer.

In 1946, the Navy decommissioned Brown Field NAAS and turned it over to San Diego County as surplus. The County ended up renting portions of the former base for use as a chicken farm. Chula Vista High School was established on the airport property in 1946.

In 1951, the Navy reopened Brown Field NAAS due to the increased military activity from the Korean War. In 1954, Brown Field Municipal was again commissioned and designated as NAAS with the mission to provide facilities to support regular operations of fleet aircraft, assigned missile programs and fleet carrier landing practice.

In 1955, NAAS Brown was home to one utility squadron, two anti-submarine warfare squadrons, a fleet aircraft service squadron (FASRON) and a Regulus air missile unit. The following year, the base was home to two utility squadrons, VU-3 and VU-7, Commander Utility Wing Pacific (COMUTWINGPAC), FASRON 4 detachment and a ground control approach unit.

Aircraft that operated at NAAS Brown Field include the F6F Hellcat, F9F Cougar, SNB, R4D Skytrain, JD-1 Invader, P2V Neptune and FJ Fury. On Nov. 2, 1954, the Convair XFY-1 Pogo made a transitional flight from vertical takeoff to horizontal flight, then back to a vertical landing at Brown Field. In 1957, Brown Field was selected as a site for one of the Vanguard Earth Satellite Tracking Stations.

On Sept. 1, 1962, the Navy transferred ownership of Brown Field NAAS to the City of San Diego, with the condition that it remains an airport for the use and benefit of the public. During the mid- to late-1960s Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA), an airline based in San Diego, trained its pilots at Brown Field Municipal using Piper Arrows, Comanches, Aztecs and Beech Bonanzas. PSA also had a contract to train Lufthansa pilots at Brown Field Municipal. In 1970, the Lufthansa training moved to Phoenix, where it still operates today.

Today, Brown Field Municipal is a busy general aviation airport. General aviation encompasses all aviation except air carrier and military, although the military continues to maintain a strong presence. The types of general aviation aircraft that operate at Brown Field Municipal include private, corporate, charter, air ambulance, law enforcement, fire rescue, flight training, cargo, skydiving, banner towing, and airships.

The Federal Aviation Administration has classified Brown Field Municipal as a reliever airport for San Diego International Airport - Lindbergh Field. A reliever airport is an airport that serves general aviation aircraft that might otherwise use a congested air carrier airport. Airline passengers benefit by experiencing fewer delays due to air traffic congestion.

PDF icon DREAM Airport Management User Fees Effective July 1, 2022.pdf

Airfield Information

  • Runway 8L/26R: 7,972 x 150 ft, asphalt/concrete, HIRL, REIL, PAPI, non-precision markings
  • Runway 8R/26L: 3,180 x 75 ft, asphalt, MIRL, basic markings
  • Airport Elevation: 526 ft MSL
  • Tower: 128.25 MHz (0800 - 2000L Daily)
  • Ground/Clearance Delivery: 124.4
  • ATIS: 132.35
  • Approach (SOCAL): 124.35
  • Departure (SOCAL): 125.15
  • CTAF: 128.25
  • Pilot Controlled Lighting: 128.25
  • UNICOM: 122.95
  • ASOS: 619-661-8297
  • ATIS: 619-661-0152
  • Instrument Approaches: RNAV (GPS) RWY 8L, VOR OR GPS-A
  • Right Traffic Runways 26R and 8R
  • TPA Runway 8L-26R: 1526 MSL (1000 AGL)
  • TPA Runway 8R-26L: 1126 MSL (600 AGL)
  • POGGI VOR (109.8) 2.3 nm north of airfield
  • Airspace: Class D (0800 - 2000L), otherwise Class G


  • Air Traffic Control Tower (0800 - 2000L)
  • 2 Instrument Approaches
  • 7,972 feet primary runway with REIL, HIRL
  • 3,180 feet secondary runway with MIRL
  • U.S. Customs
  • Access to state Routes 905 and 125 (toll road), and Interstates 5 and 805
  • Ramp space
  • Foreign Trade Zone
  • Otay Mesa Port of Entry


  • Fuel (Jet and Avgas)
  • Aircraft and vehicle parking
  • Tiedowns
  • Hangars
  • Aircraft maintenance
  • Flight training
  • Aircraft rental
  • Car rental
  • Restaurant
  • Skydiving
  • Banner towing

Airport Business

First Flight Corp. and San Diego Jet Center are Fixed Base Operators (FBOs) at Brown Field.

For other questions or concerns, see the Frequently Asked Questions or call 619-424-0455.