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City of Springfield, Minnesota

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Springfield Municipal Airport

Aviation has a rich history in Springfield.  Located on the southwest edge of the city, the current site of the Springfield Municipal Airport was established in 1973 and consists of a 3402 x 75 ft. runway equiped with a terminal building w/restrooms, a cardtrol fuel system, hanagar space for rent (Rent-$65/mo.), and much more.  For more details on the airport click here or call 507-723-3500.

SPRINGFIELD MUNCIPAL AIRPORT HISTORY (From the Springfield-Town on the Prairie book published in 1981)
 
The Springfield Municipal Airport was just a gleam in the eye of a group of Springfield men who, in the late 1920's, tried to bring Springfield into the Age of Aviation.  It took a half of a century, but was well worth the wait, for today Springfield has one of the best rural airports in the state of Minnesota.
 
Dedicated in 1974, the airport, which is located just southwest of Springfield, has a 3,400 ft. blacktop runway, a lighted windsock, a beacon, runway lights, VASI lights, an administration building, and two hangars.  It cost $443,813.69.  The cost was shared by the Federal Aviation Administration, the Minnesota Department of Aeronautics, and the City of Springfield.
 
It was not an easy task, building an airport.  It came into being after many years of interest in aviation by local people, and many hours of work by the Springfield Airport Commission, consisting of Neal Dorn, Chairman; Harold Davis, Archie Foster, G.M. Pieschel, Jim Lehrer, Don Tostenrud, Tom Miesen, and Dave Kittelson. 
 
Springfield's interest in aviation goes back to before the years of the Great Depression.  (The first known airplane to fly into Springfield came on June 27, 1910.  It was a homemade airplane piloted by a Captain Foster who came to give a flying demonstration.)  It was with the help of the W.P.A. that the first grass strip airport was build.  Land for it was purchased in December, 1933.  This consisted of 80 acres of land on the west edge of town.  (The north half is now the Springfield Industrial Park, and the residential area along Range Road.  The south half is now farm land.)  Work started in January, 1934
 
Approximately 60 workers, along with teams and tractors, started working 30 hours a week in two shifts to complete the runway.  Then in August of that year, an official of the aeronautics division of the state visited the city and made an estimate of the work necessary to put the airport in shape for use.  He estimated that 8,000 hours of relief labor at fifty cents an hour would be needed. Tractor labor, supervision, and blading expenses would be about $1,636.00.  Alfalfa seed for planting the airport was included in the estimate.  he expected the work to be finished in the fall of 1934.  This evidently could not be done in that amount of time.
 
In September, 1935, the city of Springfield applied for $8,680.75 in W.P.A. funds for labor and material for completion of the airport.  The city's share of payment was $900.00.  The results put Springfield in a prominent place on the aviation map of Minnesota.
 
Local flyers formed a Flying Club which is still active.  They sponsored flight breakfasts, attracting flyers from all over the state.
 
During World War II a Civil Defense Observer Corps, headed by Walter Hofmeister, was organized.  This was a department of the United States Air Force and was formed to observe airplanes flying over particular areas.  The observer recorded the time, direction, and speed of the airplane.
 
The first hangar was built at what is now the corner of Range Road and Central St., by Dick Potter and Fred Mottinger.  This was a private hangar used by them, and was removed when Roy and Norman built a larger hangar in 1946, and bought the first two airplanes for the Springfield Flying Service.
 
P.J. Schmidt, who had learned to fly at Reuben Potter's farm in 1937, gave flying lessons and provided a charter service as manager of the airport.  Schmidt was followed as manager by Otto Trapp in 1947, then by Aurie Lowinske, and later Roy Pankratz.
 
When the new airport opened October 26, 1973, three airplanes taxied from the old grass strip airport, down Range Road, and into the new airport where they promptly took off to celebrate.  July 28, 1974, saw the dedication ceremony and flight breakfast.  U.S. Representative Ancher Nelsen, State Aeronautics Commissioner Lawrence McCabe, and aviation booster Sherm Bowen were all present.
 
The airport, a result of a great deal of dedicated work on the part of the Springfield Airport Commission, the City Council, and the Flying Club, is now in operation with Gary Mattson the present manager.  It has been a factor in business development in Springfield, provides a base for spraying operations for the farm area, and has been important in the saving of many lives, as medical support teams have flown in frequently to aid in the transportation of patients to other facilities.  It has also developed a real interest in aviation for many area residents.