Air

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Entry Category: Air

American Airlines Flight 1420

American Airlines Flight 1420 departed Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on June 1, 1999, en route to what is now Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock (Pulaski County). As the aircraft landed, it ran off the end of the runway and broke apart. Ten passengers and the pilot died in the crash or from injuries suffered in the event. The aircraft involved in the crash was a McDonnell Douglas MD-82. At the time of the incident, the plane had 49,136 flight hours and 27,103 cycles (take-offs and landings). On the aircraft at the time of the crash were two flight crew members, four flight attendants, and 139 passengers. The flight originated in Chicago, Illinois, flying to Salt Lake …

Arkansas Aerospace Education Center (AEC)

aka: Aerospace Education Center
Located near Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport (Adams Field), the Arkansas Aerospace Education Center (AEC) provided the state with aerospace education through the Workforce Development Center of University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College. The center, which was owned by the Arkansas Aviation Historical Society, also housed the state’s only IMAX theater and a library that held the Jay Miller Aviation Collection of aerospace materials. When fundraising began, the center was intended to include a magnet school, a library of aerospace materials, a museum, and an IMAX movie theater. Before the center’s completion, however, the Little Rock School District decided not to build an aerospace magnet school at the center. Another feature, to be called the Arkansas High Technology Training Center, also …

Arkansas Air Museum

“Promoting Aviation by Preserving the Past” is the mission statement of the Arkansas Air Museum in Fayetteville (Washington County). The museum was Arkansas’s first museum dedicated entirely to aviation history. Located in a hangar at Fayetteville’s Drake Field, the museum occupies the oldest aviation-related structure still standing in northwest Arkansas. The hangar was constructed during World War II. Because of wartime resource limitations, Henry George, Fayetteville’s engineering assistant, developed the hangar out of wood, with construction starting on May 1, 1943. As well as designing the hangar, George worked as plumber, electrician, and welder on the project. At no time did the project employ more than four carpenters, three helpers, and George. Total cost for building the hangar was around …

Arkansas Division of Aeronautics (ADA)

The Arkansas Division of Aeronautics (ADA) is responsible for regulating aviation in the state of Arkansas as well as encouraging the development of aeronautics-related industries. The Arkansas Division of Aeronautics was created as the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics by Act 457 of 1941, which established the agency for a period of twenty-five years, to be headed by a commission consisting of the chairperson of the State Police Commission, the adjutant general of the State of Arkansas, the chairperson of the State Penal Board, the chairperson of the State Highway Commission, and the head of the ADA. The duties, as defined by the act, consisted of providing for the examination, rating, and licensing of airports; adopting rules and regulations for airports …

Arkansas Wing, Civil Air Patrol

The Arkansas Wing is one of the fifty-two chapters—including all the states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia—that make up the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), which is the civilian volunteer auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. The Civil Air Patrol was formed on December 1, 1941, for the purpose of conducting emergency service operations including search and rescue, homeland security, and disaster relief missions. Today, the CAP continues to perform those duties, as well as educating the public and its members about the value of aerospace and operating a cadet program for youth leadership development. In late 1941, Arkansas pilots foresaw the need to form an aviation unit to take the place of the Arkansas National Guard’s 154th Observation …

Aviation

Aviation history in Arkansas includes one pioneer inventor, a few attempts at commercial airplane production, a regional commuter airline, a now-national air freight company, and varying degrees of impact on the state’s communities. By the 1970s, aviation had become essential both for business use and for personal travel. Balloons and Dirigibles Balloon ascensions became popular throughout the United States in the 1850s, and balloons also figured in the Civil War, though none were deployed in Arkansas. There was an ascension in Yell County in 1879, and in 1902, balloonist Charles Geary came to Baxter County to perform, along with “Professor” Murgle, who demonstrated the parachute. Balloon production was apparently limited to the Hot Springs Airship Company of Joel Troutt Rice …

Batesville Regional Airport

The Batesville Regional Airport is located on Highway 167 (Batesville Boulevard) in the town of Southside (Independence County), about four miles south of Batesville, the county seat of Independence County. The City of Batesville owns the airport, which is a public-use general aviation airport averaging ninety-five aircraft operations per day (approximately six percent of which are military). The airport and hangars accommodate light general aviation aircraft of all sizes, including small jets. In 2015, the airport had more than fifty based aircraft and employed seventy-two people. The economic impact of the airport on Batesville and Independence County—including on motels, restaurants, transportation businesses, and the poultry industry—has been estimated by the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics to be approximately $5,486,400 annually. The …

Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport

The Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport (formerly Little Rock National Airport/Adams Field), located two miles east of downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) on the south side of the Arkansas River, is a mixed-use airport with both commercial and private airplanes, as well as a military presence. It has the largest amount of scheduled commercial service in the state of Arkansas and serves more than two million passengers annually. Little Rock’s first airport, operated by the U.S. Army Signal Corps, opened in 1917 as the Little Rock Intermediate Air Depot. This small airfield expanded in 1926 due to the growing needs of the 154th Observation Squadron of the Arkansas National Guard. In 1928, the first aircraft manufacturing business arrived on …

Boone County Regional Airport

The Boone County Regional Airport is located three miles outside of Harrison (Boone County). The airport is a mixed-use airport, with the majority of usage coming from general aviation. It is estimated that, in 2015, the airport provided 120 jobs and had an economic impact of over $12 million to the local economy. The first flight to what is now the Boone County Regional Airport was in 1921. It was flown by Earl Rowland, a local flying legend. He was a World War I pilot, a test pilot for Cessna Aircraft, a member of the World War II Air Transport Command, and winner of five national air races. Although his landing in Harrison in 1921 inaugurated aviation to the area, …

C-130 Crash of 1971

Ten U.S. Air Force personnel were killed in a disastrous takeoff crash at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville (Pulaski County) on the morning of November 12, 1971, in the worst accident ever to occur at the base. With Captain James B. Raycraft, age twenty-six, as the pilot, the C-130E Hercules taxied down the runway carrying four instructors and seven trainees on a planned flight to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where they would “drop a 6,000 pound load module in a simulated combat drop” as the air force personnel prepared for duty in Southeast Asia. The C-130 had traveled about 8,000 feet down the 12,000-foot runway and had reached an altitude of about 200 feet when it abruptly veered to …

Camden Army Air Field

aka: Harrell Field
Camden Army Air Field (a.k.a. Harrell Field) was one of three contract primary flying schools located in Arkansas during World War II. The other two were at Grider Field in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and Thompson-Robbins Field in West Helena (Phillips County). The Arkansas communities where the schools were located gained much-needed jobs not only for the construction phase but also from operation of the schools. The need for these contract flying schools arose because Kelly Field in Texas could only graduate 500 pilots a year, and most of the current Army Air Force (AAF) pilots did not have enough flying hours to be instructors. AAF’s commanding general, Henry Arnold, devised a plan for contract primary flying schools located in …

Coffey, Cornelius Robinson

Cornelius Robinson Coffey was the first African American to establish an aeronautical school in the United States. His school was also the only aviation program not affiliated with a university or college to become part of the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP). His pioneering efforts led to the integration of black pilots into the overall American aviation industries, both civilian and military. Cornelius R. Coffey was born in Newport (Jackson County) on September 6, 1903, to Henry Coffey and Ida Wright Coffey. In 1916, Coffey had his first experience riding in an aircraft and was convinced that aviation was his calling. In 1925, Coffey left Arkansas for Chicago, Illinois, to pursue a career in aviation by enrolling in an auto mechanics’ …

Command-Aire

In 1926, the Arkansas Aircraft Company was founded in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to build small personal airplanes. The company represented the first and one of the few aircraft companies that have existed in Arkansas. The Arkansas Aircraft Company, which later became known as Command-Aire, was nationally known for its aircraft, and it was one of the country’s leading airplane manufacturers in the late 1920s. Robert B. Snowden Jr. was the company’s president, and John Carroll Cone was in charge of sales. Albert Voellmecke—a graduate of the University of Braunschweigaud in Germany and an employee of the Heinkel firm, a noted German aircraft builder—was sent to America by the Heinkel firm in 1927 to advise the company. He later became …

Cone, John Carroll

John Carroll Cone was a promoter of aviation in Arkansas and established two significant air organizations in the late 1920s—the 154th Observation Squadron of the Arkansas National Guard and the Command-Aire manufacturing company. During his later career, he advised two U.S. presidents in commercial aviation policy. Carroll Cone was born on July 4, 1891, in Snyder (Ashley County) to Jesse H. and Annie A. Cone. He attended Ouachita Baptist College, now Ouachita Baptist University (OBU), prior to enlisting in the United States Army and volunteering for training in the Army Air Service. A veteran fighter pilot with three probable kills but only one confirmed kill in combat during World War I, Cone proved more valuable as an instructor than as …

Crenchaw, Milton Pitts

Milton Pitts Crenchaw, of the original Tuskegee Airmen, was one of the first African Americans in the country and the first from Arkansas to be trained by the federal government as a civilian licensed pilot. He trained hundreds of cadet pilots while at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute in the 1940s and was the catalyst in starting the first successful flight program at Philander Smith College in Little Rock (Pulaski County) from 1947 to 1953. His combined service record extends for over forty years of federal service from 1941 to 1983 with the U.S. Army (in the Army Air Corps) and eventually the U.S. Air Force. Milton Crenchaw was born on January 13, 1919, in Little Rock to the Reverend Joseph C. …

Dexter B. Florence Memorial Field

The Dexter B. Florence Memorial Field is an airport located in Arkadelphia (Clark County). Owned by the City of Arkadelphia, the facility serves both local general aviation and as the location for Henderson State University (HSU) flight operations. The first airplane to visit the city landed on May 25, 1918. Other planes infrequently appeared in the city over the next two decades until the first airport was constructed in 1933–34, located across the Ouachita River from Arkadelphia. The first plane landed at that facility on April 24, 1934. The land was leased for only three years, and after the expiration of the lease, the airport closed. It was reopened in 1939 when students from Henderson State Teachers College (which later …

Dockery, Jess Orval

Jess Orval Dockery was an aviation pioneer and an innovator of agricultural aviation in the Mid-South region, based first in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) and, later, Stuttgart (Arkansas County) and Clarksdale, Mississippi. He played a leading role in developing aerial application processes, perfecting the science of crop dusting and spreading the practice to the Midwest. Jess Orval Dockery was born on February 26, 1909, in Dallas, Texas, to Jess P. Dockery and Myrtle Kemp Dockery. Confederate general Thomas Pleasant Dockery was his great-uncle, while socialite Octavia Dockery was a cousin. During World War I, his family moved to Lawton, Oklahoma, where his father ran a jitney service to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. This gave Dockery access to the base’s aircraft, leading …

Douglas, Paul Page, Jr.

Brigadier General Paul Page Douglas, a Paragould (Greene County) native and an air force “ace,” was one of the most highly decorated fighter pilots from 1940 to 1970. In 1940, he joined the Arkansas National Guard, and he retired as commander of the 836th Air Division at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, in 1970. The tactics he developed for the P-47 Thunderbolt during World War II made that plane one of the most successful fighter planes of the war. Douglas was born in Paragould on April 23, 1919, to Bess Douglas and Paul Page Douglas. His father was a conductor on the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Douglas attended public schools in Paragould and graduated from high school in 1938. That fall, …

Eberts Training Field

Established next to the town of Lonoke in 1917, during World War I, Eberts Field ranked second among aviation training fields maintained by the U.S. government, and it was one of the leading training centers for aviators during the war. Named for West Point graduate Captain Melchior McEwan Eberts, an early Arkansas aviator, it had an enlistment of about 1,000 cadets being trained in aviation. About 1,500 enlisted men and officers were stationed at the field. Lonoke County outbid Pulaski County to get the aviation school to locate in Lonoke, which offered 960 rent-free acres and a new railroad spur connecting the field with the Rock Island Railroad tracks. The U.S. government accepted the Lonoke offer on November 19, 1917, …