Brown Field Municipal Airport is located southeast of San Diego, California and named in honor of United States Navy Commander Melville S. Brown, who was killed in an airplane crash in 1936. Its FAA/IATA airport code of SDM probably comes from "San Diego Municipal". Formerly a Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS), it is now a port of entry from Mexico. It is sometimes staffed by the U.S. Customs Service, but only upon the request of incoming pilots to the FAA.
It first opened in 1918 as East Field, later becoming NAAS Otay Mesa and then NAAS Brown Field, both in 1943. It was last used by the U.S. Navy in 1962, before becoming converted for general aviation use. Its primary runway is long.
In addition, a precision approach is not possible to either runway end due to steep, rising terrain (elevation 3,600-feet) less than six miles (10 km) east of the airport. There have been several crashes due to pilots not maintaining sufficient altitude over these nearby mountains (often flying VFR at night).