Raleigh and Wake County Airfields of the Past


Last updated: November 4, 2019

See interactive map at https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=17Y5NSMSN6k-JaY5zVorQJjbi1OJ_u0o9&usp=sharing

Research materials available for download at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1WtIW0IaNUTT3HtpjKjqGXyUrTz27bmMP

Acknowledgements. This research was assisted by Mark Turner, Brandon Taylor, Brandon Hopkins, Jacob Simpson, Bryce Clodfelter Jr.

Locations

Airport Opened Closed Location Notes
Chamber of Commerce field 1920?   East of city on New Bern Avenue

First permanent airfield in Raleigh, after temporary landing fields at such locations as the Raleigh Country Club and at a site on New Bern Avenue. In 1920, the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce started a project to establish a permanent field, and the field on "old" Poole Road (New Bern Avenue) was chosen, and they renewed their lease. A hangar was donated, a huge "T" of white clothed marked the site, and the famous "Flying Parson" Belvin Maynard was one of the first planes to land on April 7, 1920. The airfield was called the "municipal field" though it received no city funds.

Location TBD, with references including:

  • Two miles east of city
  • Three miles east of city
  • One mile SE

See map showing eastern edge of city limits in 1920: legeros.com/ralwake/raleigh/history/timelines/1920-1929.shtml

Described in 1921 as flying guide:

  • Municipal field
  • One mile SE
  • 1200 x 150 feet
  • Half-mile from ball park
  • "T" mark for identification.

News & Observer stories:

  • Nov 2, 1919, "'Flying Parson' Sets Foot Upon Native Heath For First Time Since Cross-Continent Flight"
  • Apr 7, 1920, "Flying Parson Will Arrive Here Today"
  • Apr 8, 1920, "'The Flying Parson' Smiles His [...] Landing on Raleigh's New Landing Field"
  • Apr 8, 1920, "'Flying Parson' Preaches Sermon"
  • Oct 4, 1920, "Avro Beats Canuck Without Difficulty"

Sources:

  • Flying Guide and Log Book by Bruce Eytinge - John Wiley & Sons - New York - 1921 - Via Google Books.
  • Wake - Capital County of North Carolina - Volume II - Reconstruction to 1920 - By K. Todd Johnson and Elizabeth Reid Murray.
Marshburn-Robbins Airport 1927, by 1929 2300 block of Garner Road, best guess. Present site of a scrap metal yard.

Notes:

  • Listed as operational municipal airport in federal Airway Bulletin No. 237, Nov. 10, 1927.
  • First day of operation on January 15, 1928, as reported in next day's News & Observer.
  • Listed as no longer operational as of September 30, 1929, in federal Air Commerce Bulletin Vol. 1 No. 12, December 16, 1929.

Described in 1927 airway bulletin:

  • Location of Lat. 35 37', Long. 78 40'.
  • No runways, no lighting, no facilities.
  • Operated by Alton Stewart, with land leased by City of Raleigh.

Sources:

  • Air Commerce Bulletin No. 237, Nov. 10, 1927.
  • Air Commerce Bulletin Vol. 1 No. 12, Dec. 16, 1929 - Via Google Books
  • News & Observer, July 21, 1928, "New Signs Pointing Way to Marshburn-Robbins Airport".
  • USDA Historical Aerial Photos, library.unc.edu/data/gis-usda/
Poindexter Airport Late 1927 1929 4400 block of Beryl Road, best guess. Present site of Raulston Arboretum.

Notes:

  • Lease recorded by county clerk on March 5, 1929, from Berry O'Kelly and wife, to H. B. Poindexter, for five years, from January 1928, to December 31, 1932. Book-Page: 000567-00237.
  • Listed as operational commercial airport in federal Airway Bulletin No. 313, March 13, 1928.
  • Described as a "new" airfield in News & Observer story on January 16, 1928, with work still underway, and a formal opening planned in the spring. Originally named Carolina Field until January 1928. Head of the "enterprise" was H. B. Poindexter, Army Reserve Pilot. 
  • Site of city's first fatal airplane crash on January 11, 1929. The Travelair plane crashed after take-off at 3:30 p.m.
  • Listed as no longer operational as of September 30, 1929, in federal Air Commerce Bulletin Vol. 1 No. 12, December 16, 1929.
  • Recalled in News & Observer retrospective on August 25, 1938, as "what some residents may recall as Poindexter Field--across from the State Prison Farm at Method."

Described in 1928 airway bulletin:

  • Location of Lat. 48 35', Long. 78 40'.
  • 60-acre site, 1500 x 1800 feet
  • Four runways of 1700, 1500, 1000, and 1000 feet.
  • No lighting, one hangar, with "space for two ships." 

News & Observer stories:

  • January 16, 1928, "War Smoulders: Aviators Busy - Crowd Gathers at Garner Road Field But There is No Outbreak of Hostilities"
  • January 12, 1929, "First Airplane Fatality Here" / "Greenville Man Killed in Airplane Crash here - C. H. Dodson, Victim of First Air Fatality in History of Raleigh"
  • August 25, 1938, Editorial column, "Frank Hawks by Charles J. Parker"

Other Sources:

  • Air Commerce Bulletin No. 313, March 13, 1928.
  • Air Commerce Bulletin Vol. 1 No. 12, Dec. 16, 1929 - Via Google Books
  • USDA Historical Aerial Photos, library.unc.edu/data/gis-usda.
  • Wake County Register of Deeds.
Curtiss-Wright Field

Later named Raleigh Municipal Airport
1929 1972 NW of intersection of Tryon Road and US 70/401. Present site of residential neighborhood.
  • Originally named Curtiss-Wright Field.
  • In 1932, Eastern Air Transport started airmail and passenger.
  • In 1933, described as 300-acre field of clay and sand, with five runways, the longest of 3200 feet. With a single hangar with "Raleigh" painted on the top.
  • Later named Raleigh Municipal Airport.
     
  • In 1933, Curtiss Wright Flying Service went bankrupt, and the city leased the property. Serv-Air subsequently provided airport services.
  • In 1934, renovated and re-opened, with all three runways paved, and lighting added.
  • In 1940, sold to private owners, after the city of Raleigh joined a land purchase for a replacement airport for passenger traffic. The city joined with Durham and purchased 891 acres of land in 1941, located midway between the two cities, on what would become Raleigh-Durham Airport.
     
  •  During World War II, the airport was used for military aircraft during World War II.
  • Also site of several air crashes, over the decades.
  • In 1972, the airport closed and the property was sold to a developer with plans for a shopping center and industrial park, which were never fulfilled.
  • In 1973, the property was sold Norfolk-Southern railroad, and the hangar and administration building were demolished.
     
  • See below for continued site history.

Source: airfields-freeman.com/NC/Airfields_NC_Raleigh.htm#raleigh

See also December 29, 1991 retrospective from the News & Observer

O'Neal Flying Field 1947 1951, by Industrial park along Tarheel Drive.
  • Operated by William S. O'Neal Jr.
  • O'Neal Flying Service later became the Raleigh Flying Service
  • County clerk recorded deed of sale on October 22, 1946.
     
  • Dedicated June 1, 1947 as a Civil Air Patrol flight center.
  • On same day, two people killed in a light plane crash during the event air show. O'Neal Flying Service sued in 1949 by family of passenger of plane.
  • Portion of site sold in 1951 for use as race track, became Raleigh Speedway.

News & Observer stories:

  • Sep. 15, 1946, Advertisement, "See Raleigh from the Air"
  • Dec 5, 1946, "Airport Battle Goes to Courts - Adjacent Property Owners File Suit Here to Stop New Airport Project"
  • Feb 5, 1947, "Measure Introduced to Regulate Airports in Wake County - Bill Would Give Power of Zoning - Rep. Hatch Disclaims Connection But Measure is Believed Aimed at New Field"
  • May 19, 1947, "CAP to Dedicate New Local Field"
  •  Jun 2, 1947, "Air Show Crash Kills Two Here - Two Raleigh Men Perish In Air Show Crash Here - Big Sunday Crowd at Field Dedication Sees Young Pilots Fall to Death"
  • Nov 2, 1949, "Court Hears Wake Appeals" [lawsuit of crash victim's widow against O'Neal Flying Service]
  • Nov 23, 1952, Legal Notices [description of boundaries of speedway property]
  •  Nov 12, 1982, Obituary of William S. O'Neal Jr.

Other sources:

  • Wake County Register of Deeds
Lake Woodard landing strip By 1971 TBD East-west grass landing strip behind 3200 block of Lake Woodard Road

At least one air crash associated with the landing strip, on July 28, 1973. Single-engine plane crashed near Melrose Drive after failing to clear the trees upon take-off. The four occupants were not injured. Two fire trucks from New Hope FD responded.

Notes:

  • Not seen in 1959 aerial photo.
  • Seen in 1971 aerial photo.

Sources:

To be added      
  • Hendricks Airport - Zebulon
  • Buchanan Field - Lizard Lick
  • Raleigh Heliport

Map

 


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