Walla Walla Regional Airport

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Walla Walla Regional Airport
Walla Walla Army Air Base
Walla Walla Regional Airport - Washington.jpg
2006 USGS Orthophoto
IATA: ALWICAO: KALWFAA LID: ALW
Summary
Airport type Public
Owner Port of Walla Walla
Serves Walla Walla, Washington
Location Walla Walla County, near
Walla Walla, Washington
Elevation AMSL 1,194 ft / 364 m
Coordinates 46°05′41″N 118°17′20″W / 46.09472°N 118.28889°W / 46.09472; -118.28889
Map
KALW is located in Washington (state)
KALW
KALW
Location of Walla Walla Regional Airport
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
2/20 6,527 1,989 Asphalt
7/25 4,486 1,367 Asphalt/Concrete
16/34 5,948 1,813 Asphalt/Concrete
Statistics (2006)
Aircraft operations 28,516
Based aircraft 134
Source: Federal Aviation Administration[1]
FAA airport diagram for
Walla Walla Regional Airport (ALW)

Walla Walla Regional Airport (IATA: ALWICAO: KALWFAA LID: ALW) is a public airport in the western United States, located in Walla Walla County, Washington, three miles (5 km) northeast of the central business district of the city of Walla Walla. It is owned by the Port of Walla Walla.[1]

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

The airport was the location of the U.S. Army Air Forces' Walla Walla Army Air Base in World War II.[2]

The War Department announced they would be spending over $7.5 million to construct an Army Air Corps training airfield adjacent to the existing airfield at Walla Walla. With the old 200-acre (0.81 km2) municipal airport as a nucleus, they commenced development of the Walla Walla Army Air Base, which ultimately comprised 2,164 acres (8.76 km2) of land. Over 300 buildings were constructed and equipped to house, feed and train approximately 6,000 men at one time.

The 91st Bomb Group lays claim to being the first Army Air Forces outfit to utilize the Walla Walla base. They had initially trained in Florida and upon arrival, they trained in B-17 Flying Fortress airplanes. The 91st Bomb Group went on to distinguish itself in combat over Europe. Several of these crews made outstanding records during their tour of duty and were well publicized upon their return to the states with names such as Jack the Ripper, Memphis Belle, and Delta Rebel. Memphis Belle was the first B-17 to complete 25 missions in Europe.

Late in 1943, Walla Walla Army Airfield lay idle when the Second Air Force withdrew its B-17 training operation.[3] However, in April of the following year, the Fourth Air Force took charge and established a training base for B-24 Liberator crews.[4]

During the war years, it is estimated that more than 8,000 officers and men were trained at this base producing 594 heavy bomber crews who compiled about 114,514 hours in the air while in training. One of its aircraft crashed in September 1944 at the future site of the Mission Ridge ski area near Wenatchee, killing all six aboard;[5][6] a wing section from the B-24 is mounted above its "Bomber Bowl."[6]

Post-war[edit]

In 1947, the newly-formed United States Air Force declared the Walla Walla Airfield surplus and the city and county took over operations on December 1. A board was formed to manage the airport and the complexities of the facilities transfer. After considerably less than the standard two-year probationary period, the airport board received an approved Civil Aeronautics Authority's full and complete title to the $13 million airport on April 10, 1949. This was the first joint ownership (city/county) permitted in the entire nation.[7]

In 1989, the "Port of Walla Walla" took over ownership and operational responsibility of the airport from the city and county of Walla Walla. The airport is mostly used for general aviation but is also served by one commercial airline.

The former office and supply buildings surrounding the airport proper have become a haven for smaller industrial/manufacturing businesses, including, as of June 2007, fifteen full-line wineries that source their fruit from the Walla Walla and Columbia Valley appellations. The Port of Walla Walla, in fact, recently completed a "wine incubator" project; three specially-constructed buildings that are leased on non-renewable six-year contracts to fledgling wineries. Among the 20 plus wineries with primary operations at the Walla Walla Regional Airport are Dunham Cellars, Tamarack Cellars, Buty Wines, Syzygy Winery, Revelry Vintners, Five Star Cellars, and Stephenson Cellars.

Facilities and aircraft[edit]

Walla Walla Regional Airport covers an area of 2,319 acres (9.38 km2) which contains three paved runways: 2/20 measuring 6,527 by 150 feet (1,989 m × 46 m), 7/25 measuring 4,486 by 150 feet (1,367 m × 46 m) and 16/34 measuring 5,948 by 150 feet (1,813 m × 46 m).[1] There is a VOR on the field that operates on 116.4 MHz.

For the 12-month period ending December 31, 2006, the airport had 28,516 aircraft operations, an average of 78 per day: 87% general aviation, 13% air taxi, <1% military and <1% scheduled commercial. At that time there were 134 aircraft based at this airport: 82% single-engine, 13% multi-engine, 2% jet, 1% ultralight and 1% glider.[1]

Walla Walla University and Skyrunners Corporation operate flight schools on the field, from primary training through multi-engine, commercial, and other training.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Airlines Destinations
Alaska Airlines operated by Horizon Air Seattle/Tacoma

Historically, Walla Walla had scheduled passenger jet service in the past provided by West Coast Airlines which operated Douglas DC-9-14 jetliners and also by Cascade Airways which flew British Aircraft Corporation BAC One-Eleven twinjets. Both airlines also operated turboprop aircraft into the airport as well. West Coast flew Fairchild F-27 propjets while Cascade operated Hawker Siddeley HS 748, Beechcraft 1900C and Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner turboprops. In addition, Cascade had its major maintenance base located at the airport for all of the aircraft types it operated including the BAC One-Eleven jets.

West Coast then merged with Bonanza Air Lines and Pacific Air Lines to form Air West which was subsequently renamed Hughes Airwest. Both Air West and Hughes Airwest continued to serve Walla Walla with Fairchild F-27 propjet flights, although by 1975 Hughes Airwest had turned over all of its service to Cascade Airways.

Currently, Horizon Air operates Bombardier Q400 propjets into Walla Walla on behalf of Alaska Airlines. The Q400 is the latest, largest, and fastest member of the Dash 8 family of turboprop aircraft.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ a b c d FAA Airport Master Record for ALW (Form 5010 PDF), effective 2007-12-20
  2. ^ History of the Walla Walla District, Corps of Engineers
  3. ^ "Walla Walla base to new command". Spokane Daily Chronicle. December 31, 1943. p. 3. 
  4. ^ "Fourth Air Force strength to be boosted, Army says". Spokane Daily Chronicle. March 25, 1944. p. 1. 
  5. ^ "Bomber crashes near Wenatchee". Ellensburg Daily Record. Associated Press. October 2, 1944. p. 1. 
  6. ^ a b "Snow comes". Ellensburg Daily Record. Associated Press. November 13, 1992. p. 13. 
  7. ^ Walla Walla Regional Airport & Industrial Park

External links[edit]