The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local news

February 13, 2011

Enid has one of Oklahoma’s oldest municipal airports

ENID — What now is Enid Woodring Regional Airport is one of the oldest municipal airports in the state.

There was speculation Enid may have had the first municipal airport, but Oklahoma City was earlier by about a year. Enid may have been the second municipal airport in the state.

“Even though the airport may not officially be the first municipal airport, its establishment as one of the very earliest municipal airport efforts, by a bond vote of the people, is certainly worth noting,” said Cindy Allen, managing editor of the Enid News & Eagle.

The newspaper is working with Enid Regional Development Alliance in finding stories about Enid’s uniqueness.

The Enid airport was dedicated in September 1928, said M. L. Becker, of Enid. A person donated 80 acres to the city for an airport, and the city voted municipal bonds to build it. The city of Enid website states Enid was the first city of Oklahoma to vote bonds for a municipally owned airport.

It originally was known as Enid Municipal Airport. The project was promoted by the American Legion, and a number of newspaper articles from the period refer to the American Legion Air Park Committee. A $50,000 bond issue was approved by voters to build the airport. Enid Park Board appointed representatives to the American Legion committee, according to Gary Brown, an Enid attorney and local historian.

The airport was dedicated a few months before one in Tulsa, which was built by a group of Tulsa oilmen who saw the advantages of a municipal airport.

In Oklahoma City, the first airport was built in 1920 on land leased to Oklahoma City. However, Countyline Airport was not considered a municipal airport, according to records from the downtown Oklahoma City Library’s archives division.

According to Oklahoma Historical Society, the 1920 Oklahoma City airport was developed when a group of buffalo wallows were filled in to create a smooth surface. The airport was located next to the Interurban line, going to Oklahoma City and Norman. The fledgling airport saw considerable use before its relocation to Southwest 29th Street and May Avenue in 1924.

Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce later developed a 70-acre airport, known as Oklahoma City Municipal Airport. The year that airport was completed and named a municipal airport is not clear.

Several communities in Oklahoma had early airports, but none were municipally operated.

The Enid airport was named Woodring Airport in 1933. It was named after I.A. Woodring, an Enid man who was one of the “Three Musketeers of Aviation,” with the Army Air Corps. Lt. Irvin A. Woodring was born Feb. 1, 1902, in Enid and became one of the top stunt and test pilots in the United States, along with John J. Williams and William Lewers Cornelius. The group performed aerobatics at the National Air Races.

Williams died in practice at Los Angeles in 1928. Charles Lindbergh joined the group after Williams’ death. Two weeks later, Cornelius died when his plane collided with another plane. Woodring died in an airplane accident on Jan. 20, 1930, falling 2,000 feet to his death at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, after his plane exploded in midair, according to records from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Today, Enid Woodring Regional Airport offers a pilot’s lounge, restaurant, flight planning, hangars, tie downs, wireless access and an after-hours fuel service.

The airport has been undergoing new construction the past couple of years, with additions to the Aircraft Structures building in the Cimarron Industrial Park and several new hangars. A large hangar that will accommodate multiple airplanes is planned for construction this year.

A new airport rescue firefighting vehicle and maintenance building currently is under construction. The facility will house the airport’s firefighting and snow removal equipment. It replaces a building constructed in the 1940s, and Airport Director Dan Ohnesorge hopes to see it complete this summer.

Another project is lengthening 66th Street, where it runs along the east perimeter of the airport, for better utilization by Cimarron Industrial Park and the foreign trade zone there. That project is expected to start in mid-May and be completed in about eight months, Ohnesorge said.

Construction was helped along with a $400,000 grant from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation industrial road program, he said.

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