Southwest Georgia Regional Airport
|Southwest Georgia Regional Airport
(former Albany Army Airfield)
|USGS 2006 orthophoto|
|IATA: ABY – ICAO: KABY – FAA LID: ABY|
|Owner||City of Albany|
|Elevation AMSL||196 ft / 60 m|
|Source: Federal Aviation Administration|
Southwest Georgia Regional Airport (IATA: ABY, ICAO: KABY, FAA LID: ABY) is a city owned, public use airport located three nautical miles (6 km) southwest of the central business district of Albany, a city in Dougherty County, Georgia, United States. It is served by commercial passenger airlines.
This airport is included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2011–2015, which categorized it as a primary commercial service airport. As per Federal Aviation Administration records, the airport had 39,200 passenger boardings (enplanements) in calendar year 2008, 33,044 enplanements in 2009, and 35,494 in 2010.
Albany Airport opened in 1935, about 4 miles southwest of the city. In October 1938, Eastern Air Lines began mail service to the field. Eastern's Eddie Rickenbacker announced that as soon as the City improved the airport, his airline would start passenger service. The City was doing just that during 1939 and 1940 in the form of a WPA project to enlarge the landing area and build a passenger terminal.
In 1940 the United States Army Air Corps was establishing civilian pilot training schools at airports in the southeast, with its moderate weather. Previously Albany Airport was rejected as an advanced training base, (Turner Army Airfield was built north of Albany instead), but approved Albany Airport for a primary contract school in June. The City agreed to provide $500,000 for further improvements to the landing field, the completion of the passenger terminal, the cost of constructing two hangars and half the cost of a third hangar. An additional investment of over $400,000 was made by Hal S. Darr, owner of the contract flying school for the construction of the cantonment area and one half the cost of one hangar. Ground was broken in July 1940. The Army Air Corps named the school the 52nd Army Air Force Fight Training Detachment. Thus Darr Aero Tech became the first Army Air Corps activity constructed in Georgia during the buildup to World War II. In addition to the main school at Albany, the following auxiliary airfields were utilized:
- Hayley Auxiliary Field
- Reynolds Auxiliary Field
- River Auxiliary Field (Location undetermined)
- Turner Auxiliary Field (Location undetermined)
On August 15, 1940, the first class of 45 cadets began training. The cadets were initially housed in the Georgia Hotel until the barracks reached completion on 20 August. Flight training commenced with 15 PT-13 Stearmans and 11 flight instructors. Seven classes of American cadets were trained until July 1941. On June 8, 1941, the school received the first British RAF cadets. For the next 14 months, Darr's classes were exclusively British. A conflict existed between Turner and Darr over airspace. Generally, Turner's airspace was located north of Albany and Darr's south of Albany. Where the areas overlapped, Turner's aircraft flew above 5,000 ft. and Darr's below 5,000. Darr's three auxiliary fields were located south of Albany.
During the first year of operation, Darr Aero Tech graduated 559 American and 86 British cadets. The last British class graduated on October 10, 1942. The seven British cadets killed at Darr and Turner Field, were interred at Albany's Crown Hill Cemetery. A granite monument and flagpole mark the graves today.
On December 11, 1941, the Defense Plant Corporation bought the school from Mr. Darr for $408,000 and the airfield was called Albany Army Airfield. Anticipating an increase in training, an additional $100,000 was spent on improvements in 1942 that included a dispensary, cold storage building, additional barracks and a Link Trainer building. After the end of 1943 training began to decrease, eventually ending with the closing of the school on December 28, 1944.
In September 1945, control of the airfield was turned over to the City of Albany, and Eastern resumed service after the war. The airport eventually received paved runways. In 2004, the only structures of Darr Aero Tech remaining are the three hangars. No trace of the cantonment area exists. In 1959, a new terminal building was completed and named in honor of the recently deceased Mayor Bill McAfee.
Facilities and aircraft
Southwest Georgia Regional Airport covers an area of 980 acres (397 ha) at an elevation of 196 feet (60 m) above mean sea level. It has two runways with asphalt surfaces: 4/22 is 6,601 by 148 feet (2,012 x 45 m) and 16/34 is 5,219 by 148 feet (1,591 x 45 m).
For the 12-month period ending July 30, 2011, the airport had 34,980 aircraft operations, an average of 95 per day: 68% general aviation, 24% military, 8% air taxi, and <1% scheduled commercial. At that time there were 32 aircraft based at this airport: 66% single-engine, 28% multi-engine, and 6% jet.
Airlines and destinations
Airlines with scheduled passenger service to non-stop destinations:
|Delta Connection operated by ExpressJet||Atlanta|
|Carrier||Passengers (arriving and departing)|
|1||Atlanta, GA||Hartsfield-Jackson International (ATL)||33,180|
|UPS Airlines||Louisville, New Orleans, Pensacola
Seasonal: Philadelphia, St. Petersburg-Clearwater
- FAA Airport Master Record for ABY ( PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Effective November 15, 2012.
- "2011–2015 NPIAS Report, Appendix A" (PDF, 2.03 MB). National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems. Federal Aviation Administration. October 4, 2010.
- "Enplanements for CY 2008" (PDF, 1.0 MB). CY 2008 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data. Federal Aviation Administration. December 18, 2009.
- "Enplanements for CY 2010" (PDF, 189 KB). CY 2010 Passenger Boarding and All-Cargo Data. Federal Aviation Administration. October 4, 2011.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
- Shaw, Frederick J. (2004), Locating Air Force Base Sites History’s Legacy, Air Force History and Museums Program, United States Air Force, Washington DC, 2004.
- Manning, Thomas A. (2005), History of Air Education and Training Command, 1942–2002. Office of History and Research, Headquarters, AETC, Randolph AFB, Texas ASIN: B000NYX3PC
- Shettle, M. L. (2005), Georgia's Army Airfields of World War II. ISBN 0-9643388-3-1
- "Albany, GA: Southwest Georgia Regional (ABY)". Bureau of Transportation Statistics. April 2013. Retrieved July 27, 2013.
- Southwest Georgia Regional Airport, official site
- Aerial image as of December 1999 from USGS The National Map
- (PDF), effective November 14, 2013
- FAA Terminal Procedures for ABY, effective November 14, 2013
- Resources for this airport: