Felts Field

Felts Field is not only the oldest airport in the Spokane area but is also one of the oldest federally designated airstrips in the country.

Located near Rutter and Fancher and along the banks of the Spokane River, Felts Field was originally known as Ed Hoisington Field when one-thousand acres were first leased from the city by the Northwest Aircraft Company in 1919. Throughout the 1920s, other private firms also leased the field for commercial aviation. The Washington Air National Guard set up at the airstrip in 1924, which was the region's first Air National Guard unit.

Symbolic of the rising increase in the use of commercial aviation, United Airlines purchased the old Northwest Airlines builiding to be utilized as their new terminal. Decorated in the popular Art Deco style of the 1930s (this can be seen in both the basic design of the building, as well as the bas relief moldings which decorate the building), the terminal was used by United Airlines also housing the region's weather bureau. Hoisington Field was renamed Felts Field in 1927 after James Buell Felts, an Air National Guard pilot from Spokane died in a plane crash that May.

On August 15, 1929, pilots Lt. Nick Mamer and Art Walker took flight on a record-breaking journey across the country from Felts Field. Staying in the air for 120 straight hours, the two men flew fom Spokane to New York and back again, returning on August 20th after their grueling 7,200 mile trip. This was the first transcontinental refueling and was a world's record for nonstop mileage. In 1938, Lt. Mamer and nine others were killed in a commercial plane wreck and in 1939 a clock tower memorial was built in Lt. Mamer's honor. The clock tower is still in use today and can be found directly west of the Skyway Cafe, behind the main parking lot.

In the 1940s and with the onset of World War II, Felts Field was quickly becoming too small for the large influx of both military and commercial planes which seemed to be constantly flying on and off the runways. In order to more efficiently support the Spokane aviation industry, the Spokane International Airport was built just west of Spokane in Geiger Field. By 1949, all military and most commercial aviation activity was moved to the bigger and more suitable airport.

Although Felts Field lost most of its traffic in 1949, it never failed to continue running as an airport. To this day, Felts Field is still an active and popular airstrip for many of the region's pilots. Hobby pilots, the Experimental Aircraft Association, commercial charter pilots and Med Star are all operating at Felts Field and at just about any given time of day, airplanes can be viewed from any part of Spokane, either taking off or landing at the airstrip.


Felts Field
Picture credits to Darin Krogh.
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