Albert Whitted Airport
|Albert Whitted Airport|
|IATA: SPG – ICAO: KSPG – FAA LID: SPG|
|Owner||City of St. Petersburg|
|Serves||St. Petersburg, Florida|
|Elevation AMSL||7 ft / 2 m|
|Source: Federal Aviation Administration|
Albert Whitted Airport (IATA: SPG, ICAO: KSPG, FAA LID: SPG) is a city-owned public-use airport in St. Petersburg, a city in Pinellas County, Florida, United States. The airport is located on the western edge of Tampa Bay, southeast of downtown St. Petersburg and The Pier. It is also located east of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. It covers 119 acres (48 ha) and has two runways.
St. Petersburg is recognized as the birthplace of scheduled commercial airline flight. On January 1, 1914, a Benoist XIV flying boat from the company St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line piloted by Tony Jannus, took off from the downtown waterfront, on the first scheduled commercial aircraft flight in history. His passenger was A. C. Phiel, a former mayor of St. Petersburg. Albert Whitted Airport was later created in 1928.
The airport is named for Lieutenant James Albert Whitted, USNR, a St. Petersburg native. Albert was one of the U.S. Navy's first 250 Naval Aviators, commissioned at age 24 just as the United States entered World War I in 1917. He served as chief instructor of advanced flying at NAS Pensacola, Florida and was later assigned to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Leaving active duty, he returned home in 1919 and introduced the people of St. Petersburg to flying. Albert would take people up in the Bluebird, a plane he designed and built. He never charged for the flights. Albert's aerial maneuvers always left spectators in awe. Albert also designed and built the Falcon. The Falcon and Bluebird were used in a commercial flying business he had with his brother, Clarence. On August 19, 1923, Albert Whitted and four passengers were killed during a flight near Pensacola aboard the Falcon when the propeller broke off. The city's airport, known until then as Cook-Springstead tracks, was subsequently named Albert Whitted Airport in 12 October 1928.
National Airlines, one of the nation's first airlines, began service there in 1934. Decades later, National merged with Pan American World Airways (PanAm) to create one of the world's largest air carriers. In the late thirties, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company chose Albert Whitted as one of the first airports to base its famous airships (i.e., blimps).
During 1934-1935, the Public Works Administration (PWA) constructed what would become Coast Guard Air Station (CGAS) St. Petersburg in the southeast corner of Albert Whitted Airport.
During the first years of World War II, aircraft at CGAS St. Petersburg were part of a valiant but inadequate deterrent to the German submarine campaign in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. As the submarine threat in the Gulf slowly abated, the air station concentrated on search and rescue activities. After the war, commercial marine and aircraft traffic continued to increase and pleasure boating operation increased exponentially. Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina and Martin PBM Mariner aircraft came aboard during the last years of the war and stayed to be the backbone of the postwar search and rescue missions. By the mid-1950s, helicopters also became part of the CGAS St. Petersburg inventory. CGAS St. Petersburg also flew the large P5M Marlin, the last seaplane the U.S. Coast Guard procured in tandem with the U.S. Navy. The P5Ms were replaced beginning in 1951  by the amphibious HU-16 Albatross. By 1976, the HU-16s had been replaced with four HH-3F helicopters. The Coast Guard's desire to add four large, land-based HC-130 Hercules aircraft at St. Petersburg in 1976 made continued Coast Guard operations at Albert Whitted Airport an impossibility because of its short runways, prompting a move to the larger St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport and construction and establishment of a new air station, Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, replacing CGAS St. Petersburg. With the establishment of CGAS Clearwater, CGAS St. Petersburg was subsequently converted to a non-flying Coast Guard installation as home to several cutters and the current Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg headquarters.
In addition to Coast Guard flight operations, during World War II, Albert Whitted Airport was converted to military use as a primary flight training base for student Naval Aviators for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. Hundreds of Naval Aviation cadets under the U.S. Navy's V-5 pre-commissioning program received initial flight training in Stearman N2S and Waco biplanes. At the end of the war, Navy training ceased, civilian commercial and general aviation activity returned, and the Coast Guard remained the sole military aviation activity at the airport until its relocation in 1976.
Facilities and aircraft
Albert Whitted Airport covers an area of 119 acres (48 ha) at an elevation of 7 feet (2 m) above mean sea level. It has two asphalt paved runways: 7/25 is 3,677 by 75 feet (1,121 x 23 m) and 18/36 is 2,864 by 150 feet (873 x 46 m).
For the 12-month period ending January 20, 2013, the airport had 99,875 aircraft operations, an average of 273 per day: 92% general aviation, 4% air taxi, and 4% military. At that time there were 185 aircraft based at this airport: 78% single-engine, 16% multi-engine, <1% jet and 6% helicopter.
According to the City of St. Petersburg budget for the fiscal year 2012, the city lists the airport along with the municipal marina, golf courses and a few other enterprises as city operations that are self-supporting. The FY 2012 airport budget is $959,181. Fees are charged to users to pay the costs of operations.
Based on the 2005 Airport Master Plan commissioned by the City of St. Petersburg, estimates of total economic impact to the city place direct purchase of goods and services at $33,152,000, payroll at $12,025,880, and employment at 362 people.<Airport Master Plan http://www.stpete.org/airport/masterplan.asp>
It's also home to the PilotMall.com Pilot Shop, which has been located on the field since 2005.
A local group, Citizens for a Waterfront Park, collected signatures and placed a question on the 2003 city ballot that would have closed Albert Whitted and turned it into a city park. The City of St. Petersburg offered two ballot questions in support of the airport for the referendum: question #1 dealt with keeping Albert Whitted as an airport forever, and question #2 dealt with the acceptance of governmental grants for the airport. Residents voted overwhelmingly to retain the historic airport.
In October 2007, the City completed construction on a $4,000,000-10,600 sq/ft terminal building. The terminal also has a 12,200 sq/yd aircraft parking ramp and a 64-space parking lot. The terminal houses the airport's Fixed Base Operator (FBO) and other various aviation and retail tenants. The Hangar Restaurant and Flight Lounge opened on the 2nd floor of the terminal in April 2010. In 2008, the city opened Albert Whitted Park, which is located on the north side of the airport. The park has observation areas overlooking the airport and an aviation themed playground. The Park is open for the general public's enjoyment, but can be reserved for special functions. A new $3 million control tower is operational. A new Taxiway D on the northside and parallel to Runway 7-25 funded by the FAA is operational. This taxiway connects the terminal building with Runways 18 and 25.
Since 2003, capital improvements have totaled over $11 million.
- FAA Airport Master Record for SPG ( PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Effective 29 July 2010.
- Scott Taylor Hartzell (2006), Remembering St. Petersburg, Florida: Sunshine City Stories, Remembering St. Petersburg, Florida: Sunshine City Stories 1 (illustrated ed.), The History Press, pp. 82–86, ISBN 9781596291201
- "The Coast Guard" (page 294) C-2004 by Foundation for Coast Guard History ISBN 0-88363-116-4
- http://www.uscg.mil/history/stations/airsta_clearwater.asp (click on story of transition)
- "Voters clear on airport: Keep it." St. Petersburg Times, November 5, 2003.
- Albert Whitted Airport at City of St. Petersburg web site
- PDF brochure from CFASPP
- Albert Whitted Airport Preservation Society
- Aerial image as of December 1998 from USGS The National Map
- (PDF), effective July 24, 2014
- FAA Terminal Procedures for SPG, effective July 24, 2014
- Resources for this airport: