Airport History

A Brief History of the Central Nebraska Regional Airport

  • In the 1920’s, the first Grand Island airstrip was a grass field located at the end of East Fourth Street, where the first night air mail flight took place.
  • The city took over the airfield in 1928. United Airlines began air service in 1933 using the 1/2 mile-long sod runways for its Boeing 247s.
  • The original name of the airport was Arrasmith Field, named after a local pilot and physician Dr. W.W. Arrasmith. Arrasmith Field was dedicated on September 27, 1937. Schools and businesses closed so all could attend the gala event were over 5,000 were in attendance.
  • During World War II, Arrasmith Field was commandeered by the US Army and the airport became known as Grand Island Army Air Field. 3,500 airmen, including those from the 6th, 502nd, and 376th Bombardment Groups, trained here in B-17 and B-29 heavy bombers.
  • The airfield was returned to the city for civilian use in 1948 was known as the Grand Island Municipal Airport and operated by the City. The Arrasmith name was lost in the aura of war and was never reinstated.
  • In 1964 the Air Force came and improvements included resurfacing and lengthening of runways, an approach lighting system, a mobile control tower, ground control, ground approach radar system, six aircraft hangers, and an ammunition storage depot. The Air Force deactivated in 1968.
  • In 1970 the city gave up responsibility of the airport and it came under the governance of a five-member elected Hall County Airport Authority. Original Board Members were: Lloyd Kelly Jr, Cecil Larsen, Oscar Mueller, Howard Hinman, and Joyce Hornady.
  • Two hijackings have taken place at the airport. In April 1977 a private plane was hijacked to Denver, and in October of 1977, a commercial flight on Frontier Airlines was hijacked from GI to Atlanta, GA – 33 passengers and crew was onboard.
  • In May 1985 name was changed from Hall County Regional Airport to Central Nebraska Regional Airport.
  • In 2009 the Central Nebraska Regional Airport became the home of the new Nebraska Army National Guard facility and in June 2012, ground broke for the future home of the National Guard Armory.
  • The airport celebrated its 75th Anniversary in September 2012.

Central Nebraska Regional Airport

The first Grand Island airport, a grass field, was located approximately 1 1/2 miles south of the present terminal building on land owned by H. O. “Doc” Woodward. It was used by the Grand Island Aero Company, organized in 1919 by former World War I pilot Floyd B. Thompson. The city took over the airfield in 1928. United Airlines began air service in 1933 using the 1/2 mile-long sod runways for its Boeing 247s.

On September 27, 1937, Arrasmith Field was dedicated on 640 acres north of the original field in honor of Dr. W. W. Arrasmith, who was instrumental in arranging the necessary financing using Department of Commerce, W.P.A., and city funds.

In 1942 the U.S. Government assumed control of the airfield for army air forces training, expanding it to 1,920 acres and 173 buildings. During World War II, 3,500 airmen, including those from the 6th, 502nd, and 376th Bombardment Groups, trained here in B-17 and B-29 heavy bombers. The airfield was returned to the city for civilian use in 1948 and is now operated by the Hall County Airport Authority.

Hall County Historical Society
Nebraska State Historical Society
Terminal Building, Grand Island Airport, 3773 Sky Park Road
Hall County
Marker 464
2009