A STOLport or STOLPORT was an airport designed with STOL (Short Take-Off and Landing) operations in mind, usually for an aircraft class of its weight and size. The term STOLport did not appear to be in common usage as of 2008. A STOLport normally had a short single runway, in general shorter than 5,000 feet (1,524 m). STOLports only accepted certain types of aircraft, often only smaller propeller aircraft, often with limits on the amount of fuel that can be taken. In the United States, short runway facilities are simply known as airports and the term STOLport has not been commonly used since the early 1970s.
STOLports in North America
In the United States, a STOLport is one of several types of facilities. STOLports are identified with an S at the end of the site ID. For example, Calvert Peak STOLport is listed as FAA site number 19448.1*S. As of January 2009, around 80 facilities are coded as STOLports by the FAA in the United States. According to the FAA in 1968, twenty-five potential STOLport sites were identified in the Northeast Megalopolis.In the early 1970s, a study was conducted to help the FAA to determine if it was necessary to create an elevated STOLport test facility. At one point in 1968, a 2,400 feet (730 m) STOLport was under consideration for a roof top in Manhattan. The Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, with a longest runway of 3,988 feet (1,216 m), went into a period of decline in the 1980s and 1990s, but has since been revitalized as a city centre airport by Porter Airlines, flying de Havilland Canada DHC-8 Dash 8 Q400 turboprops. However, it is not officially designated as a STOLport.
Between 1965 and 1987, approximately 30 regional airports were built in Norway, typically equipped with a 2,600-foot (792 m) long runway. They were intended to improve transportation systems and shorten travel times to areas that were considered difficult to reach by other means. In Norwegian, they are called "kortbaneflyplass" ("short runway airport"). As they were built in areas with relatively low population density and terrain that often wouldn't permit a standard length runway, it became essential to build shorter runway and use smaller airplanes. Today, the airports are frequented by airliners that have been awarded subsides from the Norwegian government. They typically fly feeder routes to larger hub airports that have direct routes to Oslo and other major cities in Norway. Though most of the routes are flown by Widerøe, other airliners do occasionally win bids on some of the routes.
Based on the Norwegian example, several short runway airport (800-900 meters) were built in Greenland, replacing heliports. The country at that time only had a few airports, built by the US defense in hidden locations far from Greenlandic settlements. Still the short runway airports (including at the capital Nuuk) can't accept flights from distant places like Denmark or UK. Some of the airports of Iceland are STOLports, although most are longer. The availability of STOL aircraft has enabled Air Iceland to enable a netwerk to Greenland.
Several attempts were undertaken at the late 1960s and early 1970s to create STOLports in the United States for the New York City and Los Angeles, California areas; however, most are not operational or no longer in existence at the present time. There was also Victoria STOLport in Montreal, Canada.
The first US STOLport for commercial operation was commissioned August 5, 1968 at La Guardia airport and was available for VFR use only. This 1,096 feet (334 m) STOL runway was dubbed the LaGuardia STOLPORT.
The first officially designated STOLport in the U.S. opened on October 17, 1971 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Shawnee Airlines operated scheduled passenger service between the Walt Disney World Airport (DWS, also known as the Lake Buena Vista STOLport) and Orlando McCoy Jetport (MCO, now the Orlando International Airport) as well as the Tampa International Airport (TPA) with de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter turboprop STOL aircraft. Information concerning the Shawnee Airlines STOL service appeared in the Eastern Airlines system timetable dated September 6, 1972 with regard to connecting service between the two airlines at either Orlando or Tampa. The 2,000 foot STOL runway at this former airport is no longer in use. Prior to that date, only portions of facilities were designated STOLports. Plans at the time called for an interstate STOL transportation system. On July 26, 1972; the FAA V/STOL office was renamed to the Quiet Short-Haul Air Transportation System Office refocusing it and reflecting public concerns about noise created by smaller more numerous STOLports as opposed to larger airports. The Quiet Short-Haul Air Transportation System Office was eliminated June 11, 1974. Logan International Airport opened an 1,800-foot (549 m) STOL runway September 20, 1968 for use testing Eastern's Breguet 941 shuttle on east coast routes. The Vágar Airport had a 1,250-metre (4,101 ft) runway which anyway operated jet planes on 1,300-kilometre (808 mi) distance. It was extended in connection with a need to renew the fleet.
Some STOLports were never open to public aviation and were privately owned, such as the Avon STOLPort, a 4,000-foot (1,219 m) runway located adjacent to the town of Avon, Colorado that was constructed specifically to handle ski tourism flights for the nearby ski resorts in the Vail area. The Avon STOLPort was owned and operated by Rocky Mountain Airways which operated de Havilland Canada DHC-7 Dash 7 STOL turboprops from this mountain airfield. The Avon STOLport is no longer in existence.
Another privately owned STOL airfield was the Clear Lake City STOLport (CLC) located in the Houston, Texas area near the NASA Johnson Space Center. This small airport which included a 2,500 foot runway, an aircraft hangar and a passenger terminal was constructed in 1969 and owned by Houston Metro Airlines which later changed its name to Metro Airlines. The airline operated de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter STOL turboprops from this suburban airfield with shuttle service to Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH). According to the February 1, 1976 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Houston Metro was operating 22 round trip flights on weekdays between Clear Lake City and Houston Intercontinental. After Metro Airlines eventually ceased operations due to financial challenges, the Clear Lake City STOLport was subsequently abandoned and then demolished to make way for new suburban development. There is no trace of this pioneering airfield to be found at the present time.
Rocky Mountain Airways was the worldwide launch customer of the de Havilland Canada DHC-7 Dash 7 four engine turboprop STOL aircraft. Rocky Mountain selected the 50-passenger Dash 7 specifically for the purpose of transporting passengers into high mountain airports with short runways such as the Avon STOLport located near Vail, Colorado from its hub located at Denver Airport. The airline also utilized the Dash 7 for scheduled flights into the small Steamboat Springs Airport (SBS) in Colorado. Rocky Mountain first began airline operations with de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft before subsequently commencing Dash 7 service and only operated STOL capable aircraft during its existence.
Houston Metro Airlines (later named as Metro Airlines) operated de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter turboprops in scheduled "cross-town" air service between Clear Lake City, Texas (CLC) and Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH, now Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport) which had a dedicated STOL runway at the time. According to the February 1976 edition of the Official Airline Guide (OAG), the airline was operating 22 roundtrip flights every weekday between CLC and IAH in a passenger shuttle service.
- Stolport Manual (Doc 9150) International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
- FAA. Advisory Circular 150/5200-35. Page 6. (PDF page 8) FAA SITE NR S = Stolport
- FAA. Airport Data (5010) & Contact Information. The January 15, 2009 NFDC facility database listed 82 facilities as TYPE=STOLPORT. The NFDC runway database listed 2 runways as having "STOL" markings and 6 runways designated with an "S" meaning "STOL runway"
- Elevated STOLport Test Facility Conceptual Development and Cost Study. April 1973.
- DECISION HELD UP ON SHIP TERMINAL; Council Unit Asks Agencies for Additional Data The New York Times. December 13, 1968
- Excerpt from history of Avinor (Norwegian). Accessed May 21, 2010.
- FAA Chronology. Accessed August 26, 2008.
- Starting STOL Time. Aug. 16, 1968.
- The short, short life of Disney World's STOLport. (Blog)
- departedflights.com, Eastern Airlines Sept. 6, 1972 system timetable, page 68
- Eastern's STOL Shuttle Trials. John Bentley. Flight International. October 17, 1968.
- February 1, 1976 Official Airline Guide, North American Edition, Clear Lake City – Houston Intercontinental flight schedulee
- The History and Impact of Rocky Mountain Airways  AirInsight Interview with former Rocky Mountain Airways CEO. January 6, 2011.
-  Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields – Avon STOLPort (WHR), Avon, CO
- Feb. 1, 1976 Official Airline Guide (OAG), Houston (IAH)-Clear Lake City (CLC) flight schedules
- A Flight Investigation using Variable Glide Path Trajectories to Compensate for Winds and Moderate Wind Shears.
- Elevated STOLport Test Facility Conceptual Development and Cost Study.
- Technical Feasibility of Floating Interim Manhattan STOLport.
- County Plans Study of Stolport for Pasadena. Los Angeles Times. September 10, 1972
- Possible STOLport Sites Now Up to 3. The New York Times. May 28, 1972
- Short-Runway Port For Planes Is Urged At the Trade Center. The New York Times. November 18, 1966
- F.A.A. Backs $36,000 Study Of a Floating STOLport Here The New York Times. July 3, 1970.
- Starting STOL. Time. Aug. 16, 1968.
- Flying Downtown. Time. Jan. 12, 1968
- Catalina Needs STOLPORT to prosper. Independent Press-Telegram. Sunday, August 24, 1969
-  Abandoned and Little Known Airports – Avon STOLPort (WHR), Avon, CO.