Your field's history and future.

Teterboro slowing your company down? Try getting the lowest turn around times in the NYC area.

Hey guys since Im such a big aviation buff I thought I would start this thread. Wikipedia has airport history for some fields post your local fields info here …

Early Days (1929-1932)

The property that would eventually become the airport was originally occupied by the Fairfield Dairy Company, owned by Stephen Francisco.

In April 1929 Essex Airport Corporation was formed by Walter Marvin and six other individuals. The intention of the company was to open an airport to serve Montclair, New Jersey, a town seven miles away. The tract of land that Essex Airport Corporation intended for the airport was the Fairfield Dairy Company land that had also been used during WWI as a temporary airfield for the Naval Rifle Range which had been located along the Passaic River in Pine Brook. Some of the early references to airport have the designation Marvin Airport, named after Walter Marvin.

In May 1929, soon after the creation of Essex Airport Corporation, Curtiss Airports Corporation acquired Essex Airport Corporation. Since Walter Marvin was also president of Curtiss Airports Corporation at the time, this rapid acquisition was most likely the original intention.

In Sept of 1929 Curtiss-Wright Airport was open to flight operations, and in Oct 1930 a Grand Opening air show at the Curtiss-Wright Airport was held.

Caldwell-Wright (1932-1973)

In Sept 1932 Curtiss Airport Corp and Curtiss-Wright Flying Service are shut down and sometime between late 1932 and early 1933 the name of the airport was changed to Caldwell-Wright reflecting the separation of airport operations from the other entities of the corporation. The use of Caldwell within the airports name is due to the location of the airport within Caldwell Township. It was not until the early 1950s, that Caldwell Township changed its name to Fairfield in order to avoid being confused with the near-by Caldwell Borough. The reference to Caldwell Airport continues to present day and is consistently used by pilots and FAA tower controllers during radio communications.

From Sept 1932 to Jan 1942 White Flying Service was active at airport, providing flight services.

With the impending military buildup prior to Americas entrance to WWII, the demand for aircraft increased, prompting a major expansion of the entire aviation industry. With the formation of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation in July of 1929, the corporation was comprised of three principal divisions; one of the three, the Propeller Division, (originator of the Electric Propeller) was ultimately headquartered at Caldwell-Wright Airport. The Caldwell Plant and headquarter offices of the Propeller Division was opened on April 19, 1941, just 96 days after the groundbreaking. The first 300 men waited as their machines were placed in the factory, so that as soon as the installation was complete, the men could begin work. The Caldwell plant was huge, it covered 380,000 square feet, and was built with the most modern industrial designs available at the time. The entire production area employed 16,950 square feet of actinic glass (tinted glass which absorbs a high percentage of solar radiation) to assure maximum use of sunlight. The air circulation system was capable of a complete change of air every five minutes. During WWII employment at the Caldwell plant grew to approximately 6,000. The rapid expansion of the Propeller Division was seen in the building of the Caldwell plant. Where the plant was originally designed to occupy a floor area of 270,000 square feet, the factory was increased to its final size of 380,000 square feet even before the plant was competed in record time.

In addition to the building of the propeller plant, the airport was expanded to allow for much larger planes to land by enlarging the runways to 4,500 feet. In total Curtiss-Wright supplied 85 percent of the propellers for U.S. aircraft in World War II.

Curtiss-Wright opened the airport for public use in 1965. Originally the tract owned by Curtiss-Wright was in excess of 650 acres. The company gradually began selling parcels of the land for industrial development and by 1973 the airport land remaining was reduced down to 278 acres.

Essex County Airport (1973-present)

Fairfield’s largely agricultural community began to change in the 1950’s and 1960’s with the post war boom and construction of major highways nearby. Development of large residential tracts and a modest amount of single-story industrial space followed. It was in these two decades that Fairfield’s development pace had quickened, especially along Route 46 and around the airport. The airport itself, however, did not benefit from that development and was ready to be sold by Curtiss-Wright Corporation in June of 1972 for residential units or industrial development. For the past several years while the land value was appreciating, Curtiss-Wright had been leasing the airport to Fairfield Aviation, who operated the airport. Now that the land value grew, Curtiss-Wright decided to sell off the airport property for $6.5 million.

John Clarey, of Fairfield Aviation (Also President of Aviation Advisory Council of New Jersey) and Harry Hamlen, who was the editor and publisher of Air-List-Ads aviation magazine, and director of the Aviation Advisory Council of New Jersey, were responsible for keeping airport from becoming redeveloped. Hamlen and Clarey were the main drivers in persuading the Essex County Improvement Authority (ECIA) to purchase the airport in 1973.

John Clarey retired as president of Fairfield Aviation in New Jersey in 1978 In December 1983 construction began on the first of two four-story, 80,000-square-foot office buildings located on the east side of the airport.

The ECIA originally had great plans for mixed office and industrial development of the airport’s perimeter as well as general overhaul of all runways, hangars and control equipment. However the plans of industrial development had to be abandoned due to wetlands and other environmental issues. A restaurant with an aeronautical theme (94th Bomb Group Restaurant) was built in 1986. This restaurant was very popular up until March 2006 when it closed was torn down. The ECIA has not yet realesed details on what will replace the restaurant, but it will most likely be new airport buildings.

The Essex County Airport gained notoriety when John F. Kennedy, Jr., who based his private aircraft there, crashed after departing the airport en route for Martha’s Vineyard on July 16, 1999.

Now the Airport is under the management of retired Air Force veteran Tom Gomez, and is still operated by the ECIA. The airport has completed a big list of new projects including security gates, cameras, new hangers, high intensity pilot controlled lighting, PAPI, Rwy 22 repaved and restripped, and many more upgrades to operational status. Taxiways P, D, G, and B have all also been repaved. Future projects for the airport have been yet to be released by airport officals

Currently the airport has three flight schools, two fixed based operators, one aircraft sales company, and several certified service centers for Cessna, Piper, and Beechcraft. The FAA Control Tower at Caldwell handles mostly training flights during basic operating hours, however the traffic also includes light and medium jets, helicopters, and private government flights.

Caldwell/Essex County Airport is very likely to be effected by increase in VLJ traffic due to begin in late 2007. The airport is the nearest field to NYC with a runway of 4,553 ft with minimal jet traffic, and no commercial traffic. A direct link to transit makes it the perfect choice for jets traveling to the New York City area, without the delays of larger airports. The airport has ramped up its efforts to receive additional federal funding to ensure its future impact on the world of aviation for many years to come.


Lansing Municipal (KIGQ), Illinois has a pretty rich history. I still fly with Associated Air, which owns and operates out of the Historic Ford Hanger.

Be sure to click the Historic Ford Hanger sign to get the full history.

Every time I return home and fly out of Lansing, I see they continue to expand the airport. The long runway (4002 feet), 18/36, is a recent addition to help accomidate the increasingly prevalent business jet traffic. Sun Aero Helicopters recently completed construction of a new hanger for helicopter training operations. They are building a new airport entrance, and I believe they are, or have, installed a localizer for use on the long runway. Some days I go out to fly and am stuck on the ground for a few because of the volume of traffic. I don’t mind it though. I love seeing the airport busy and growing. It assures me it won’t be going the way of Meigs Field anytime soon. It’s truly a great airport. I learned to fly there, and the faces are very familiar. If anyone is familiar with Carl Unger and “The Breezy”, he is based at Lansing. I was once fortunate enough to recieve a ride on “The Breezy” from Unger himself, and I occasionally see him at Associated Air. By the way, Shannons Landing, located on field, has some good food if anyone is looking for a $100 hamburger location.

Winchester Regional Airport - KOKV
Winchester, Virginia

Found the following in the local paper’s Web site: … flying.asp

Flying High
The History of Aviation in the Winchester Area Is A Chronicle of Continuing
Growth and Progress
By Laura Arenschield
The Winchester Star

Nearly nine years after Orville and Wilbur Wrights historic first flight
in December 1903, motorized air travel made its way to Winchester.

Aviation started in Winchester the 18th of April, 1912, said Robert O.
Noyer, a local aviation writer. That was the day the first airplane visited
Winchester. It was a Curtiss Model 12. It looked a lot like the Wright
brothers-type of airplane the biplane except the guy was sitting up
instead of lying down.

That first plane was flown by Charles F. Walsh, a Curtiss aviator, who had
come to the area specifically to show local residents what this new
invention could do.

Noyers research shows that Walshs five-minute flight was made at 3:45 p.m.

People had never seen an airplane, Noyer said. And … after the Wright
brothers made some rounds, other people came around seeking much acclaim,
because this was really a great thing, that you could fly through the air.

Since that first flight, Winchesters aviation sector has blossomed.

In the past 75 years, the area has had continuous air service, which has
been used to advance the areas economic development and to further aviation
as a hobby.

Winchesters first airport, Bowles Field, was established in 1927.

According to Noyers research, it was a typical grass field with a mowed
runway, a small hangar … and a farmhouse on the airfield.

The airstrip was just east of Winchester and slightly west of the current
intersection of Interstate 81, U.S. 522, and U.S. 50, near the site now
occupied by the Cracker Barrel restaurant.

On Jan. 21, 1931, Bowles Field was renamed Admiral Byrd Field, in honor of
polar explorer Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, a Winchester native and brother
of Virginia governor and U.S. senator Harry F. Byrd Sr.

On May 9, 1926, Admiral Byrd, then 37, flew over the North Pole, gaining him
acclaim and notoriety as an explorer and aviator.

On Nov. 29, 1929, Byrd became the first person to fly to the South Pole. He
would return to Antarctica three more times in 1930, 1947, and 1955.

During the 1930 trip, he spent six months alone in an advance camp near the
South Pole, surviving temperatures as low as 80 degrees below zero and
weathering a malfunctioning engine vent that poisoned him with carbon
monoxide fumes.

Soon after Admiral Byrd Field opened and shortly after the adventurers famed
1930 expedition to the South Pole, two New York barnstormers, George Scheder
and Charles Duke Douglas, came to the airfield, liked the Winchester area,
and, Noyer said, decided to make it their home base.

In 1931, Scheder and Douglas staged one of their first air shows at the
Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, according to Noyers research.

By 1932, Scheder had taken over Byrd Fields management.

The Winchester Regional Airport Commission, formed in 1963, was created to
oversee the airports operations and to act as an adviser to the City of
Winchester, which owned the facility.

On July 1, 1987, the Winchester Municipal Airport officially became the
Winchester Regional Airport, and the Winchester Regional Airport Authority,
the airports current governing body, was created.

Paul Anderson Jr. was chairman of the Airport Commission when Winchester
Municipal Airport became Winchester Regional Airport. He has been flying out
of the airport since 1959.

When I started flying, the airport was all grass, he said.

Anderson became chairman of the Airport Authority after the airport switched
names, serving as a representative from Frederick County.

Winchester Regional Airport serves the city and Frederick, Clarke, Shenandoah,
and Warren counties.

Anderson said the Airport Authority was created because, quite frankly, the
City of Winchester couldnt afford to fix the airport up anymore.

The airport was becoming key to the areas economic development.

And you had … industries who wanted to locate here and wouldnt, because
the airport wasnt adequate …, Anderson said. The commission soon realized
that the only way the airport could be upgraded and the funds acquired was to
form a regional airport authority.

The Airport Authority created two plans for airport improvements, to be
implemented in five- and 10-year increments, Anderson said.

It hired Delco Associates, a consulting firm, to look at the areas growth and
what the airport needed to become to accommodate and encourage that growth.

We took [the plan] to all agencies involved local, state, and federal and
they all concurred with it, Anderson said. We were able to get funds and
start major construction on the airport.

The 10-year plan was finished in less than six years, Anderson said, and
included a terminal building, a longer runway, and hangars.

Today, the airport is a 24-hour, all-weather operation.

It has a 5,500-foot runway, a full instrument landing system, two
12,000-square-foot public hangars, three private hangars, 52 T-hangars, and
75 tie-down spaces.

Its proposed operating budget for fiscal year 2004 is $1.38 million, most of
which will be raised through fuel sales, hangar rentals, and other private
income sources.

Many people who have used the airport are hobby aviators, but those recreational
flyers were not the original reason for the upgrades, Anderson said.

All the improvements were made for enhancements to economic development and to
improve quality of industry here, he said. If youve got good transportation,
you can be selective about what industry comes here.

By having an adequate transportation network, the airports going to be an asset
to the community rather than a liability.

In 1994, the old terminal building burned down and a new one had to be built,
said David Foley, operations supervisor at the airport.

He also said improvements to the facility have again been made in the interest of
the areas economic development.

Over $17 million since 1987 has been invested in the airport by the Commonwealth
of Virginia Department of Aviation, the [Federal Aviation Administration], the
Airport Authority, and the [participating] jurisdictions, Foley said.

One of the goals of the Airport Authority was to turn the airport into an
economic development tool and still accommodate the recreational flyer.

In 1934, Scheder and Douglas obtained contracts for a federal civilian air mail
program, kicking Winchesters aviation position into high gear.

By 1936, Admiral Byrd Field had become too small to handle the larger aircraft
that had begun to use it.

According to Noyers research, Scheder requested financial and property aid from
Winchester officials, who agreed to lease him a larger plot of land about one and
a half miles from Byrd Field.

The new airport, to be named Winchester Municipal Airport, operated at the site
of the current Winchester Regional Airport.

The total cost for the 1936 facility was $2,700, hangars included, Noyers
research states.

On Dec. 2, 1937, Virginia officially recognized Winchester Municipal Airport as a
licensed commercial airport.

In the following 66 years, the airport would undergo many changes.

Anderson said his interest in the airport has stemmed from his love of flight.

When Im flying, thats one time that Im completely and totally relaxed, he
said. Its my form of recreation and my form of relaxation.

His favorite memory is the first time he flew alone out of Winchester Municipal

Its hard to describe, Anderson said. Its just a great feeling the feeling
of freedom. Here I had the chance to go out and fly by myself. Its a feeling you
just cant describe.

I stumbled on a cool site called “Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields” . Interesting for the history buff…

cool website

, new T-Hangers completed :stuck_out_tongue:

Beat me to it! :slight_smile:

For me, I’ve had a couple of interesting stories about the fields around me. First, the ones in Vegas:

The first KLAS wasn’t the present day KLAS, but was McCarran field, which was located by the intersection of Sahara and Paradise in Las Vegas (by the Sahara Hotel/Casino. That was the original McCarran field, originally named Alamo Airport, as built by George Crockett. That served as the first Las Vegas Airport with its first flight in 1920 operated by Western Air Express until Howard Hughes came along and started service to LAS with TWA. With that, he purchased land to the north of LAS and started service from there. The airport then was renamed to McCarran Field. This went on for a good 10 - 15 years, until the USAF bought that field from Hughes, which became the present day KLSV. LAS was moved further south of town to its present location after that, with the original McCarran Field sign from when it was at LSV. … 72313.html

Paul Freeman has the rest on the airports near me: … m#fairoaks

This one is less than a mile from my place in Sacramento, and is now an Office Depot, 2 gas stations, storage units, and a hotel. … tm#phoenix
This is roughly 5 miles from me, and is a housing development. :frowning: … tm#perkins
Another 5 miles from me but in the opposite direction (towards KSMF). This is exactly as it is depicted; a gravel pit.

There are more within a 30 mile radius of me, but too many to add, as I haven’t seen them myself (I’d love to).