University of Illinois Willard Airport

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University of Illinois
Willard Airport
Airport type Public
Operator University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Serves Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
Location Tolono Township, Illinois
Elevation AMSL 754 ft / 230 m
Coordinates 40°02′21″N 88°16′41″W / 40.03917°N 88.27806°W / 40.03917; -88.27806Coordinates: 40°02′21″N 88°16′41″W / 40.03917°N 88.27806°W / 40.03917; -88.27806
Location of Champaign County in Illinois
Location of Champaign County in Illinois
CMI is located in Champaign County, Illinois
Location of airport in Champaign County
Direction Length Surface
ft m
4/22 6,501 1,981 Concrete
14L/32R 8,102 2,469 Concrete
14R/32L 3,817 1,163 Asphalt
18/36 5,302 1,615 Concrete

University of Illinois Willard Airport (IATA: CMIICAO: KCMIFAA LID: CMI) is south of Savoy in Tolono Township, Champaign County, Illinois. It is owned and operated by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is named for former University of Illinois president Arthur Cutts Willard; it is home to the University of Illinois Institute of Aviation, a major research facility at the university.


The airport was dedicated on 26 October 1945. Airline flights began in 1954.[2] The terminal building built in 1960[3] was used until the present terminal was completed in 1987.[4] By 1969 Willard was the second-busiest airport in the state of Illinois.[3] After the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 many airlines found service to small airports to be inefficient, the price differential to airfares from major hub airports such as Chicago O'Hare grew, which limited demand for tickets from Willard and caused airlines to leave.

On January 28, 1998 President Bill Clinton was in Champaign-Urbana for a speaking engagement at Assembly Hall and arrived at Willard Airport on Air Force One. Due to the breaking story, news media descended on Champaign-Urbana. After the engagement, just prior to takeoff, the Boeing 707 acting as Air Force One got stuck in the mud, the taxiway not being designed for aircraft as wide as the Boeing 707. After about an hour of being stuck, a backup Air Force One descended upon Willard Airport. The backup was SAM26000, which was the same 707 that took John F. Kennedy to Dallas. The trip on SAM26000 marked the last time it carried a sitting president. Several months later it was retired to the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson. Many news broadcasts that evening carried live video feed of the Presidential aircraft stuck at Willard Airport.[5]


Willard Airport covers 1,799 acres (728 ha) and has four runways:

  • Runway 4/22: 6,501 by 150 ft (1,982 by 46 m) Concrete
  • Runway 14L/32R: 8,102 by 150 ft (2,469 by 46 m) Concrete with ILS
  • Runway 14R/32L: 3,817 by 75 ft (1,163 by 23 m) Asphalt
  • Runway 18/36: 5,302 by 150 ft (1,616 by 46 m) Concrete

The terminal has five gates.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

University of Illinois Willard Airport is located in USA
Airline destinations from Willard Airport
Terminal building at Willard Airport
Airlines Destinations
American Eagle Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth

American Eagle has one daily flight to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on 50-seat ERJs, and six daily (five on weekends) ERJ flights to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

Delta Air Lines dropped Willard Airport on August 31, 2010.[6] Vision Airlines also ceased service to Willard Airport on January 6, 2012 after 3 weeks of service.[7]

Ground transportation[edit]

The airport is served by buses from the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, which connect with intercity buses and with Amtrak. Several car rental agencies have offices in the terminal building. The airport is reached from U.S. Route 45, five miles south of downtown Champaign. The nearest expressway exit is Exit 229 (Monticello Road) on Interstate 57, about a four mile drive from the terminal. In addition to the curbside loading zone and the rental car parking lot, parking facilities include a paid parking lot ($5/day).[8]


  1. ^ FAA Airport Master Record for CMI (Form 5010 PDF). Federal Aviation Administration.
  2. ^ "Airport History". University of Illinois Willard Airport. 
  3. ^ a b Urbana Courier clipping file
  4. ^ University Office for Facilities Planning and Programs: Willard Airport
  5. ^ "President's Plane Gets Stuck In The Mud". AllPolitics. January 28, 1998. 
  6. ^ Dodson, Don (June 30, 2010). "Delta to end service at Willard on Aug. 31". The News-Gazette. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Parking". University of Illinois Willard Airport. 

External links[edit]