Local landmarks adorn magazine cover

Film shoot, defense operations revenues continue to pad IYK coffers

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Local landmarks adorn magazine coverInyokern Airport General Manager Scott Seymour, with two visiting Apaches, in front of the IYK terminal (and our world-famous southern Sierra Nevada) — Courtesy photo

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The iconic image of Five Fingers, the backdrop of a photo taken at Inyokern Airport, graced the cover of more than a million copies of the April edition of Motor Trend magazine.

“We host shoots for them two or three times a year, but I think this may be the first time we’ve made the cover,” said Scott Seymour, general manager at IYK.

While the 25-crew Motor Trend shoot has perhaps the greatest visibility, the magazine’s team worked on one of more than a dozen individual shoots that have staged projects at the local airport in the last fiscal year.

“It’s pretty cool to see our mountains on television or magazines or movies,” said Seymour, adding that the real value of this side industry is the hundreds of thousands of dollars it brings to the local airport — and estimated millions to the valley — each year.

“The filming has been strong — particularly with the feature I’m not allowed to talk about that’s been visiting our valley over the last several months.”

Seymour is one of the many installation and hospitality representatives who signed a nondisclosure agreement that prohibits discussion, but numerous unofficial sources have confirmed that the mystery feature is none other than Paramount Studio’s sequel to Tom Cruise’s iconic “Top Gun.”

Since the beginning of August, IYK has hosted film crews (some as large as 300 people) for 72 separate days.

The airport recovered more than $250,000 in revenue related to location fees, but the much bigger benefit of those visitors is the disposable income brought into our community through hotel stays, restaurant visits, car rentals and more.

For film projects alone, the airport business generated nearly 2,000 room nights in local hotels, which translate to in excess of $200,000 spent in hospitality. Market multipliers indicate that another $400,000 is spent on food, fuel and other amenities.

And that’s not even the whole story.

Since IYK lost air service, they began hosting military crews for testing and other operations. This fiscal year, the airport generated nearly $240,000 in revenue, not including the commercial tourism generated by those projects.

These operations generated another 2,250 room nights, an estimated 100 car rentals and nearly 7,000 meals — for a total local spending of some $750,000.

“These are estimates,” said Seymour. “But some of the companies that come here spend unbelievable amounts of money in our community.”

He also acknowledged that although he works hard to ensure that the airport maintains its role as an economic driver in the valley, “I can only bring so much attention to this.

“The vast majority of our customers are groups that come back over and over again. One of the reasons they like it here is because our staff is discreet.”

Another reason is that “we do whatever it takes to make sure our visitors have everything that they need.”

Seymour said that he is not allowed to share information with the public about defense-related activities.

“What I can share is that military and special operations groups that base their activities out of Inyokern come here not only for China Lake’s ranges, but also for NTC Fort Irwin’s ranges, as well as test sites in Nevada.”

“For filming, I can tell you we’ve had a lot of very famous people out here.”

In addition to Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Ron Howard, Michael Jordan, Bono, Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford, David Copperfield and Sam Elliot are just a few of the celebrities who have graced IYK’s runways and taxiways.

“I’m sure there are more people I could name from the contemporary modeling agencies and hip-hop circles.”

At press time, Seymour was waiting to hear back from another celebrity wanting to film a pet project out at IYK.

“But I can’t tell you who,” he said. Like many other hushed-up projects, we may have to wait to see it on TV, or another magazine cover.

Story First Published: 2019-03-29