The airport was created in 1941 when the United States Navy was training pilots for World War II. The Navy made arrangements with a local farmer, Martin "Pappy" Grill, to use a grass landing strip. Pilots flying from Wold-Chamberlain Airport, now Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, would use this field for practicing approaches. After the war, Grill sold the field and some adjoining land to American Aviation, Inc. John Stuber gave the field its name "Flying Cloud Airport" to reflect local Indian lore and flying. The Metropolitan Airports Commission bought the airport in 1948 and paved the runway. The MAC built a control tower in 1963. By 1966, it was ranked the second-busiest airport in the central United States behind Chicago-O'Hare International Airport. In 1968, with 446,198 takeoffs and landings, it was the ninth-busiest airport in the United States. Today it is designated by the FAA as a reliever airport and aircraft are restricted to 60,000 pounds or less, except in an emergency situation or when operated by the U.S. Government.