Disgruntled neighbors of “Van Noise Airport” can blame their woes on the Communist menace. The reason Van Nuys has an 8,000-foot runway attractive to jet traffic is that in the late 1940s, U.S. Air Force generals saw the then-sleepy field as a base for jet interceptors–the better to protect the West Coast from long-range Soviet bombers attacking from Siberia. The government extended the runway 2,000 feet, requiring the novel solution of building a tunnel underneath the airport to accommodate road traffic on busy Sherman Way. The tunnel is still in use.
Ironically, by the time hundreds of homes had been demolished to make room for the expansion, Nike missiles had taken over the defensive role, leaving the airport with the runway capacity to become the busiest general aviation airport in the world.