A Brief History of the Warren County Airport


The Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport is located on approximately 500 acres 3 miles northeast from downtown Glens Falls, just off the New York State Route 254 (Quaker Road) in the Town of Queensbury.

Both Warren and Washington Counties are located in the northeast section of New York State, on the southeast edge of the Adirondack mountain range, with a combined population of just over 120,000. The northeast part of the two-county region is located within the 6-million acre Adirondack Park, about 60% of which is privately owned, and 40% State owned.

Interstate 87, the Adirondack Northway, serves the two-county region and extends from the New York State Thruway (I-90) at Albany, north to the Canadian border. Access to the airport is off Exit 19, easterly on Route 254 to Ridge Road. The airport entrance is off Queensbury Avenue on the east side of the facility.

Although the United States had not yet entered World War II, which was raging in Europe, the Government was already, making plans on how to protect the Country should an invasion take pace along the Atlantic seaboard. On September 12, 1940, Col. Clarence B Coombs approached the Warren County Board of Supervisors for the purpose of conferring with State, Local and Federal officials on the feasibility and desirability of such an airport.  It was determined that an airport would be a good investment due to the area being in a direct line between New York City and Montreal.

The County agreed to maintain the field and all improvements and equipment that might be constructed or installed with Federal Aid other than that owned by the Government. These agreed upon, the Federal Government planned on spending one half million dollars on the construction. The County appropriated $10,000 for the purchase of lands on which to build the airport. A suitable site was found in the Town of Queensbury and in January 1941, the Army Corp of Engineers drew up plans for the Airport. These plans consisted of a North-South runway and a Northwest-Southeast runway to be built in the future. The North-South runway was begun soon after and by March 1941, was 1900 feet long and 70 feet wide (turf). Thus, the beginnings of an airport.

During this time an additional $12,000 was appropriated toward land purchases and property rights. Following the Airport Committee's recommendations, a plan was made to extend the North-South runway, build the Northwest-Southeast runway and grade and pave both. Forty acres of land to the north and thirty acres to the west were purchased. The thirty acres was purchased for $750.00. On May 16th, two power graders began removing sod from approximately 55 acres, forty of which needed to be cleared of trees.

This was done by eight expert axe men. As the profiles of the Northwest-Southeast runway and the 1,600 foot extension on the north end of the North-South runway took shape, it became necessary, due to swampy ground, to do extensive excavation and filling, up to six feet deep in spots. Two power shovels, two bulldozers and eight trucks worked at removing about 200,000 cubic yards of earth/sand. The Northwest-Southeast runway (runway 12-30) became 3,500 feet by 500 feet and the North-South (runway 1-19) increased to 3,500 while the width increased from 70 feet, to 500 feet. The area was then graded by two 10-ton rollers to compact the earth. Together, these rollers traveled a distance of 1,500 miles during construction. The biggest problem was preparing the soil for the 100 foot wide runway pavements. More than 600 tons of dust was mixed with the soil and a total of 105,962 gallons of asphaltic priming oil was applied. By August, Canadian Colonial 12-ton DC-3 aircraft were using the new pavement and leaving no impression on the runways.

The work done in the 6 month period, to August 1, 1941, was equivalent to building an 18 foot road, including shoulders, a distance of 30 miles. A total of 12,000 hours of labor and a total budget of $27,000 was spent on the project.

In 1942, a building was constructed for the caretaker and an additional $6,000 was appropriated for land purchases.

At this time, the Board discussed the need to develop the airport relative to the cost of roads, construction of an administrative building, and snow removal. They also reviewed the budget for 1045 which total $5,000. Later in the year, the CAA and M.J. Reynolds met to secure approval for plans for the administration building. The total estimated cost for this building was $101,799 and a garage at $15,000. The probable usefulness of these buildings was determined to be ten years. In 1998, $400,000 was spent to upgrade this same Administration building and recently $8,000 was spent replacing the garage roof.

The Airport has seen Colonial Airlines, Mohawk, Eastern and Allegheny come and go. But upon completion of the Adirondack Northway, commercial service ceased for the Warren County Airport.

Over the years, runway 1-119 was improved to a length of 5,000 feet by 150 feetand runway 12-30 is now 4,000 feet by 100 feet. The runways and the five taxiways are precision instrument runways with HIRL lights (pilot controlled).

The airport accommodates aircraft ranging from a Piper Cub up to the C5A Galaxy. On a daily basis, it is not uncommon to see everything from a King-Air, Citations, Lears, Sabreliners and the Falcon series of aircraft.

Some of our users are International Paper Company, General Electric Company, Aetna Insurance, Irving (purchased Scott Paper Co.) Nibco Company and Travelers Insurance to mention a few.

 

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Construction of Terminal

Construction of Main Hanger

First Years of Operation