Texarkana Regional Airport
aka: Texarkana Air Force Station
The Texarkana Regional Airport is located three miles northeast of Texarkana (Miller County). The airport is a mixed-used facility with the primary focus being general aviation; it also offers limited commercial aviation. In 2015, the total economic impact to the Texarkana area included 420 jobs and more than $32.5 million to the local economy. In 2015, there were sixty-eight aircraft based at the airport, and the airport conducted just under of 48,500 flight operations.
The early history of the airport dates back to 1928 when the City of Texarkana acquired 190 acres of land from two local families, the Lathrop and Wheeler families. The following year, the first runways were constructed. Both were made of sod, with one measuring 3,500 feet and one at 3,000 feet.
American Airlines began commercial service in Texarkana with a Ford Tri-Motor. The initial flight was on June 15, 1931. Two years later, American Airlines pulled out of Texarkana and would not return until 1948. The Great Depression affected the airport, and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) was engaged to construct a terminal building at the field. This original building later began housing the administration for the airport.
In 1942, improvements to the runways included paving them and installing lights for night operations.
The Cold War came to southwestern Arkansas with the arrival of the 703rd Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron at the airport in 1955; at this time, the airport was rechristened the Texarkana Air Force Station. The 703rd was a mobile radar unit that provided coverage for the Strategic Air Command base near Bossier City, Louisiana, at Barksdale Air Force Base. The thirty-person unit guided inceptor aircraft toward unidentified intruders. As the Cold War eased, the demands for the Air Force Station diminished, and it was inactivated on September 8, 1968. For a time, the air force also provided Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control duties.
During the 1960s and 1970s, improvements were undertaken at the airport. A new passenger terminal building was completed in 1960, and a new FAA control tower was finished. In 1970, the Instrument Landing System was installed, and the U.S. Air Force used the airport to pick up cargo from the Lone Star Ammunition Plant in neighboring Texas.
The year 1985 saw the introduction of Jetstream-31 aircraft flying for American Eagle with non-stop service to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in Texas. There were four flights a day.
Further renovations to the passenger terminal, expanded in 1980, were completed in 1992. A second commercial passenger gate, handicapped-accessible restrooms, and a luggage carousel were introduced.
The current airport hosts two runways: 4/22 at 6,601 feet, and 13/31 at 5,200 feet. Both are made of asphalt, with 4/22 as the primary runway. The airport covers an overall area of 964 acres. From mid-May 2016 until the end of June 2016, runway 4/22 was closed for maintenance related to resurfacing. Preventative maintenance had also been done in the 1990s.
The airport has seen budget issues in recent years. Despite airlines turning a profit on their operations, a decline in other sources of income has seen Texarkana Regional Airport struggle to remain profitable. In April 2021, it was announced that the airport would be breaking ground on a new terminal later that year.
For additional information:
Campbell-Miller, Sarah. “Texarkana to Break Ground on New Terminal in June.” Arkansas Business, April 26–May 2, 2021, p. 9.
(accessed September 10, 2020).
Georgia Military College
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