Albert Whitted Airport

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Albert Whitted Airport
Aerial Photo - Albert Whitted Airport - Florida USA.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner City of St. Petersburg
Serves St. Petersburg, Florida
Elevation AMSL 7 ft / 2 m
Coordinates 27°45′54″N 082°37′37″W / 27.76500°N 82.62694°W / 27.76500; -82.62694
Direction Length Surface
ft m
7/25 3,677 1,121 Asphalt
18/36 2,864 873 Asphalt
Statistics (2013)
Aircraft operations 96,827
Based aircraft 184

Albert Whitted Airport (IATA: SPGICAO: KSPGFAA LID: SPG) is a city-owned public-use airport in St. Petersburg, a city in Pinellas County, Florida, United States.[1] The airport is located on the western edge of Tampa Bay, southeast of downtown St. Petersburg and The Pier. It is also located east of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. It covers 119 acres (48 ha) and has two runways.[citation needed]


St. Petersburg is recognized as the birthplace of scheduled commercial airline flight. On January 1, 1914,[2] a Benoist XIV flying boat from the company St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line piloted by Tony Jannus, took off from the central yacht basin of the downtown waterfront,[3] on the first scheduled commercial aircraft flight in history.[4] His passenger was A. C. Phiel, a former mayor of St. Petersburg.[5] Albert Whitted Airport was later began construction in October of 1928 and opened in the summer of 1929.[6]

The airport is named for Lieutenant James Albert Whitted, USNR, a St. Petersburg native.[7] Albert was one of the U.S. Navy's first 250 Naval Aviators, commissioned at age 24 just as the United States entered World War I in 1917.[8] He served as chief instructor of advanced flying at NAS Pensacola, Florida and was later assigned to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.[8] Leaving active duty, he returned home in 1919 and introduced the people of St. Petersburg to flying.[9] Albert would take people up in the "Bluebird", a plane he designed and built.[10] He never charged for the flights. Albert's aerial maneuvers always left spectators in awe.[citation needed] Albert also designed and built the "Falcon". The Falcon and Bluebird were used in a commercial flying business he had with his brother, Clarence.[9] On August 19, 1923, James Albert Whitted and four passengers were killed during a flight near Pensacola aboard the Falcon when the propeller broke off.[11] The city's airport, known until then as Cook-Springstead tracks, was subsequently named Albert Whitted Airport in 12 October 1928.[12][13]

National Airlines, one of the nation's first airlines, began service there in 1934.[6][14] Decades later, National merged with Pan American World Airways (PanAm) to create one of the world's largest air carriers. In 1929,[15] the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, at the request of St. Petersburg, agreed to base one of its famous airships (i.e., blimps) at Albert Whitted Airport.[16] Albert Whitted Airport was one of the first airports to base their blimps.[6][17]

During 1934-1935, the Public Works Administration (PWA) constructed what would become Coast Guard Air Station (CGAS) St. Petersburg in the southeast corner of Albert Whitted Airport.[18]

During the first years of World War II, aircraft at CGAS St. Petersburg were part of a valiant but inadequate deterrent to the German submarine campaign in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. As the submarine threat in the Gulf slowly abated, the air station concentrated on search and rescue activities. After the war, commercial marine and aircraft traffic continued to increase and pleasure boating operation increased exponentially. Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina and Martin PBM Mariner aircraft came aboard during the last years of the war and stayed to be the backbone of the postwar search and rescue missions. By the mid-1950s, helicopters also became part of the CGAS St. Petersburg inventory. CGAS St. Petersburg also flew the large P5M Marlin, the last seaplane the U.S. Coast Guard procured in tandem with the U.S. Navy. The P5Ms were replaced beginning in 1951 [19] by the amphibious HU-16 Albatross. By 1976, the HU-16s had been replaced with four HH-3F helicopters.[20] The Coast Guard's desire to add four large, land-based HC-130 Hercules aircraft at St. Petersburg in 1976 made continued Coast Guard operations at Albert Whitted Airport an impossibility because of its short runways, prompting a move to the larger St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport and construction and establishment of a new air station, Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, replacing CGAS St. Petersburg.[20] With the establishment of CGAS Clearwater, CGAS St. Petersburg was subsequently converted to a non-flying Coast Guard installation as home to several cutters and the current Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg headquarters.[citation needed]

In addition to Coast Guard flight operations, during World War II, Albert Whitted Airport was converted to military use as a primary flight training base for student Naval Aviators for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. Hundreds of Naval Aviation cadets under the U.S. Navy's V-5 pre-commissioning program received initial flight training in Stearman N2S and Waco biplanes. At the end of the war, Navy training ceased, civilian commercial and general aviation activity returned, and the Coast Guard remained the sole military aviation activity at the airport until its relocation in 1976.[21]

Facilities and aircraft[edit]

Albert Whitted Airport covers an area of 119 acres (48 ha) at an elevation of 7 feet (2 m) above mean sea level. It has two asphalt paved runways: 7/25 is 3,677 by 75 feet (1,121 x 23 m) and 18/36 is 2,864 by 150 feet (873 x 46 m).[1]

For the 12-month period ending January 20, 2013, the airport had 99,875 aircraft operations, an average of 273 per day: 92% general aviation, 4% air taxi, and 4% military. At that time there were 185 aircraft based at this airport: 78% single-engine, 16% multi-engine, <1% jet and 6% helicopter.[1]

Current operations[edit]

According to the City of St. Petersburg budget for the fiscal year 2012, the city lists the airport along with the municipal marina, golf courses and a few other enterprises as city operations that are self-supporting. The FY 2012 airport budget is $959,181. Fees are charged to users to pay the costs of operations.[citation needed]

Based on the 2005 Airport Master Plan commissioned by the City of St. Petersburg, estimates of total economic impact to the city place direct purchase of goods and services at $33,152,000, payroll at $12,025,880, and employment at 362 people.[22]

The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg of the IndyCar Series is held at the airport annually in the spring.[citation needed]

It's also home to the Pilot Shop, which has been located on the field since 2005.[citation needed]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

On March 25, 2011, a Mooney M20J, registered to Courtney Jones Aviation, crashed after veering left on the runway and ended up on the rock jetty off the runway. The pilot of the aircraft did not suffer from any injuries.[23][24]

A few days later on March 27, 2011, a T-28 Warbird that was performing for the opening of the Honda Grand Prix crashed into the water after the pilot reported mechanical difficulties and attempted to make an emergency landing. Both the pilot and the passenger sustained minor injuries.[25][26]

On March 23, 2014, a Cessna L19 owned by the Advertising Air Force ditched into the water south east of the airport after the pilot reported engine failure. The pilot of the aircraft survived the accident without injury.[27]

On August 31, 2014, the pilot of a Piper PA-23, owned by Aerial Banners Incorporated, died after crashing 75 yards south of the airport shortly after takeoff.[28][29]

On September 15, 2014, a Piper PA-28 originating from Tallahassee Regional Airport crashed in the Vinoy Park en-route to Albert Whitted Airport. All four on board survived with two sustaining minor injuries and two sustaining critical injuries.[30][31] Later reports from the NTSB confirmed the aircraft crashed as a result of "total loss of engine power" while approaching Albert Whitted Airport.[32][33]


2003 referendum[edit]

A local group, Citizens for a Waterfront Park, collected signatures and placed a question on the 2003 city ballot that would have closed Albert Whitted and turned it into a city park. The City of St. Petersburg offered two ballot questions in support of the airport for the referendum: question #1 dealt with keeping Albert Whitted as an airport forever, and question #2 dealt with the acceptance of governmental grants for the airport. Residents voted overwhelmingly to retain the historic airport.[34]

Since 2003, capital improvements have totaled over $11 million.[citation needed]

Additions and renovations[edit]

In October 2007, the city completed construction on a $4,000,000-10,600 sq/ft terminal building. The terminal also has a 12,200 sq/yd aircraft parking ramp and a 64-space parking lot. The terminal houses the airport's Fixed Base Operator (FBO) and other various aviation and retail tenants. The Hangar Restaurant and Flight Lounge opened on the 2nd floor of the terminal in April 2010.[35]

In 2008, the city opened Albert Whitted Park, which is located on the north side of the airport. The park has observation areas overlooking the airport and an aviation themed playground. The Park is open for the general public's enjoyment, but can be reserved for special functions. A new $3 million control tower is operational. A new Taxiway D on the northside and parallel to Runway 7-25 funded by the FAA is operational. This taxiway connects the terminal building with Runways 18 and 25.[35]

Future developments[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d FAA Airport Master Record for SPG (Form 5010 PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. Effective 29 July 2010.
  2. ^ "The First Commercial Flight". Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  3. ^ Michaels, Will (2012). The Making of St. Petersburg (First ed.). Charleston: History Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-1-60949-833-7. 
  4. ^ "World’s First Commercial Airline | The Greatest Moments in Flight". Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  5. ^ "100 Years of Commercial Flight | Small World, Big Future‏". IATA | Flying 100 Years. Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  6. ^ a b c "Albert Whitted Airport Preservation Society - Albert Whitted Airport History". Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  7. ^ "Albert Whitted - U.S. Navy bio". Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  8. ^ a b "Albert Whitted Park - Waterfront Parks - St Petersburg FL - Downtown St Pete". Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  9. ^ a b "Albert Whitted and Frances Brent". Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  10. ^ "Thomas Whitted House" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-10-26. 
  11. ^ "James Albert Whitted". Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  12. ^ Scott Taylor Hartzell (2006), Remembering St. Petersburg, Florida: Sunshine City Stories, Remembering St. Petersburg, Florida: Sunshine City Stories 1 (illustrated ed.), The History Press, pp. 82–86, ISBN 9781596291201 
  13. ^ "Lt. James Albert Whitted Biography". Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  14. ^ "H&R Trains - Albert Whitted Airport". Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  15. ^ Arsenault, Ray (1996). St. Petersburg and the Florida Dream (Second ed.). Gainesville: University Press of Florida. p. 254. ISBN 0-8130-1667-3. 
  16. ^ Deese, Alma Wynelle (2006-01-01). St. Petersburg, Florida: A Visual History. The History Press. ISBN 9781596290952. 
  17. ^ O'Brien, Sara (2009-01-01). St. Petersburg. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9780738567679. 
  18. ^ "Historic Coast Guard Air Stations". Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  19. ^ "The Coast Guard" (page 294) C-2004 by Foundation for Coast Guard History ISBN 0-88363-116-4
  20. ^ a b "Historic Coast Guard Air Stations". Retrieved 2015-10-02. 
  21. ^ "Albert Whitted Airport". Retrieved 2015-10-02. 
  22. ^ "Airport Master Plan". Retrieved 2015-10-16. 
  23. ^ "Plane hits water at Albert Whitted Airport; pilot is uninjured". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  24. ^ "Small plane skids off runway into water in St. Petersburg". Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  25. ^ "Single prop plane crashed into the water off Albert Whitted Airport runway". WFTS. Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  26. ^ "T-28 Trojan Crashes in Florida". Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  27. ^ "Plane crashes in water off Albert Whitted Airport". 10NEWS. Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  28. ^ "Pilot dies when small plane crashes into water near Albert Whitted Airport". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  29. ^ "Pilot remembered as family man as submerged plane pulled from water". Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  30. ^ "Plane narrowly misses St. Petersburg condo towers, crashes in park". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  31. ^ "Small plane crashes in St. Petersburg, Florida, park". Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  32. ^ "NTSB Report: Plane that crashed in Vinoy Park suffered total engine failure". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  33. ^ "NTSB: Engine failure in Vinoy Park plane crash". Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  34. ^ "Voters clear on airport: Keep it." St. Petersburg Times, November 5, 2003.
  35. ^ a b "Albert Whitted Airport". Retrieved 2015-10-28. 

External links[edit]