Dane County Regional Airport

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Dane County Regional Airport
Truax Field
Dane County Regional Airport Logo.png
Logo as of 2013
Airport type Public
Owner/Operator Dane County
Serves Madison, Wisconsin
Location Madison, Wisconsin
Elevation AMSL 887 ft / 270 m
Coordinates 43°08′23″N 089°20′15″W / 43.13972°N 89.33750°W / 43.13972; -89.33750
Website www.MSNairport.com
MSN is located in Wisconsin
MSN is located in the US
Location of airport in Wisconsin / United States
Direction Length Surface
ft m
18/36 9,006 2,745 Concrete
3/21 7,200 2,195 Concrete
14/32 5,846 1,782 Concrete
Aircraft operations (2016) 79,731
Based aircraft (2017) 167
Departure Enplanements (12 months ending Jan '17) 902,000
Sources: airport web site[1] and FAA[2]
For the Air National Guard use of this facility, see Truax Field Air National Guard Base.

Dane County Regional Airport (DCRA) (IATA: MSNICAO: KMSNFAA LID: MSN) (Truax Field) is a civil-military airport located six miles northeast of downtown Madison, the capital of Wisconsin.[2] In the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2017–2021, it is categorized as a small-hub primary commercial service facility.[3]

DCRA has three runways and in 2016 it served more than 1.8 million passengers. MSN serves American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines and United Airlines. These airlines have non-stop flights to twelve hubs with over 95 departures and arrivals daily to and from destinations such as Salt Lake City, Atlanta, Washington DC, New York City, and Orlando. Delta and United provide service with Airbus A319s and A320s as well as Boeing 737s and 757s which are among the largest aircraft operating at the airport. Frontier has introduced the Airbus A320neo to the airport, an aircraft with one of the quietest engines in the US commercial fleet.


The airport was renamed Truax Field and activated as a U.S. Army Air Corps airfield in June 1942 during World War II. During the war, it was used by the Army Air Corps Eastern Technical Training Center, a major school operating at Truax AAF for training radio operators and mechanics, and later expanded to training in radar operations, control tower operations, and other communications fields for the Army Airways Communication Service. A unit established in 1943 trained radio operators and mechanics on B-29 Superfortress communications equipment. The host unit on the airfield was the 334th (later 3508th) Army Air Corps Base Unit. On September 17, 1945, the airfield's mission was changed to that of a separation center and it was closed as an active AAF airfield on November 30, 1945.

Conveyed to local civil authorities, the Madison Municipal Airport became the home to the 1st Battalion 147th Aviation Regiment. The 1-147th operates the UH-60M Blackhawk Helicopter and has deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The airport is also home to the Wisconsin Air National Guard and its present-day 115th Fighter Wing (115 FW), an Air National Guard fighter wing operationally-gained by the Air Combat Command (ACC). Today, the Air National Guard's F-16 Fighting Falcon still operates at the base. The 115th Fighter Wing is one of the 14 operational air defense units responsible for air defense of the eastern continental United States.

On December 15, 1966, a 31,000 square foot terminal building opened on the west side of the airfield at a cost of $2.36 million. In 1986, the airport tripled in size with a $12 million project that expanded the terminal from 32,000 square feet to 90,000 square feet, adding a second level concourse with six boarding bridges.[4]

In 2006, the airport completed a $68 million expansion that doubled the size of the terminal, built in a Frank Lloyd Wright-influenced prairie style designed by the Architectural Alliance based in Minneapolis.[5] The new terminal accommodates 13 gates with jetways, WiFi, additional restaurant and retail vendors post-security, an art court, and both business and family lounges. The airport has also continued to expand its parking options, most recently in 2013.

Facilities and aircraft[edit]

Dane County Regional Airport covers 3,500 acres with a field elevation of 887 feet (270 m) above mean sea level. It has three concrete runways: 18/36 is 9,006 by 150 feet (2,745 x 46 m); 3/21 is 7,200 by 150 feet (2,195 x 46 m); 14/32 is 5,846 by 150 feet (1,782 x 46 m). [2]

The fixed-base operator (FBO) is Wisconsin Aviation,[6] which leased the assets of the former FBO, Four Lakes Aviation and Coldstream Aviation, in 1994.

More recent data shows the following operations annually for the last eight years:[7]

2009: 96,700
2010: 96,205
2011: 83,263
2012: 82,777
2013: 84,860
2014: 78,956
2015: 78,206
2016: 81,419

In 1927, the City of Madison purchased 290 acres of land for $35,380. Previously a cabbage patch for a nearby sauerkraut factory, the newly acquired land would later become the present day home of the Dane County Regional Airport. In January 1936, the city council voted to accept a WPA grant for construction of four runways and an airplane hangar. Additional grants financed the terminal and administrative building as well as electric floodlights. The development price tag was $1,000,000 – 10% paid by the city and remainder by the federal government (MSN Airport, 2012). In September 1938, Barnstormer Howard Morey of Chicago, Edgar Quinn and J.J. McMannamy organized the Madison Airways Corporation.

In 1942, operation of the airfield was also transferred to the US Army Air Corps. The airfield was renamed Truax Field in honor of Madisonian Lt. Thomas L. Truax who died in a training flight shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Twenty years later in 1962, the city completed a long-range master plan – paving the way for a grant from the Federal Aid to Airports Program – a new terminal and taxiway system was designed. This would be the first expansion of the airport. By 1968, the US Air Force was completely phased out of Truax field, leaving the Wisconsin Air National Guard to perform alert/interceptor mission exclusively. 770 acres of land and many buildings were deeded to the city.

A view of the airport and surroundings during construction, June 1937.

In 1974, jet service began through Northwest Orient Airlines and averaged over 500,000 passengers per year. In 1986, the terminal tripled in size with a $12 million project that expanded the terminal from 32,000 square feet to 90,000 square feet, adding a second level concourse with six boarding bridges.

In 1991, a $3.8 million expansion added a 50-foot high glass atrium and a commuter gate concourse – expanding the terminal to over 125,000 square feet. A multi-level parking structure was built in 1993 with an additional level added in 1998. In 2000, a groundbreaking ceremony initiated a phase 1 of a 6-year, $68 million building project that doubled the size of the terminal to 274,000 square feet.

In 2002, Wisconsin Aviation dedicated a new general aviation terminal on the east ramp.

In 2006, Robert Skuldt, airport director for 34 years, was inducted into the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame. The executive conference room on the main level was dedicated in his honor.

In 2009, the airport received $4 million in stimulus dollars to expand taxiway B to the south end of runway 18-36.[8] The taxiway is primarily used by Wisconsin Air National Guard aircraft and also allows private jets to return to the fixed-base operator without having to hold on taxiway A to cross the main runway.

On March 20, 2013, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new 58,000 square-foot snow removal equipment building. The building opened in September 2014 and houses he largest municipal solar array in Wisconsin.

In 2014, several additional parking levels, creating 1,600 covered parking spaces, were added to one of the airport parking structures at a cost of $30 million.[9][10]

In 2014, the airport secured funding for a Category II instrument landing system and other systems to facilitate low visibility landings.[11] The ILS system was operational in the late fall of 2016.

2016 marked a record-breaking year for the best-ever passenger traffic for the airport with 1,841,809 departing and arriving passengers. The second-best year was 2004.

In January 2017, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held celebrating the opening of several new restaurant and shop locations. In March 2017, there were 167 aircraft based at this airport: 79 single-engine, 15 multi-engine, 18 jet, 15 helicopter and 40 various military aircraft.

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Airlines Destinations Refs
American Eagle Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth [12]
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul [13]
Delta Connection Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–LaGuardia, Salt Lake City, Washington–National [13]
Frontier Airlines Denver, Orlando [14]
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Denver [15]
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Newark [15]


Airlines Destinations
FedEx Express Appleton, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Des Moines, Indianapolis, Memphis, Sioux Falls
FedEx Feeder
operated by CSA Air
Appleton, Mosinee
Freight Runners Express Milwaukee, Wisconsin Dells


Carrier shares[edit]

Carrier shares: (Feb 2016 - Jan 2017)[16]
Carrier Passengers (arriving and departing)
Envoy Air

Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from MSN (Feb 2016 – Jan 2017) [16]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 198,090 American, United
2 Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota 162,530 Delta
3 Detroit, Michigan 150,640 Delta
4 Atlanta, Georgia 113,060 Delta
5 Denver, Colorado 98,350 Frontier, United
6 Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas 60,710 American
7 Charlotte, North Carolina 31,490 American
8 New York–LaGuardia, New York 27,420 Delta
9 Newark, New Jersey 21,360 United
10 Salt Lake City, Utah 18,150 Delta


  1. ^ Dane County Regional Airport, official web site
  2. ^ a b c FAA Airport Master Record for MSN (Form 5010 PDF), effective Mar 30, 2017.
  3. ^ "List of NPIAS Airports" (PDF). FAA.gov. Federal Aviation Administration. 21 October 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2016. 
  4. ^ History Of The Dane County Regional Airport
  5. ^ Dane County Regional Airport Opens to Rave Reviews
  6. ^ Wisconsin Aviation, the airport's fixed-base operator (FBO)
  7. ^ Air Traffic Activity System (ATADS). (2010). ATADS: Airport operations: Standard report. Retrieved from http://aspm.faa.gov/opsnet/sys/opsnet-server-x.asp
  8. ^ "Stimulus Gives $4M for Dane County Airport Taxiway". The Capital Times. March 30, 2009. 
  9. ^ Ivey, Mike (October 8, 2013). "Epic Systems driving $30 million parking expansion at airport". The Capital Times. 
  10. ^ "Parking Expansion Construction Project Begins". msnairport.com. May 6, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Airport To Secure Funding For Precision Instrument Approach". msnairport.com. June 16, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Flight schedules and notifications". Retrieved 5 February 2017. 
  13. ^ a b "DELTA FLIGHT SCHEDULES". Retrieved 5 February 2017. 
  14. ^ "Route Map-Frontier Airlines". Frontier Airlines. Retrieved 5 February 2017. 
  15. ^ a b "Timetable". Retrieved 5 February 2017. 
  16. ^ a b "RITA BTS Transtats - MSN". www.transtats.bts.gov. Bureau Of Transportation Statistics. Retrieved 20 April 2017. 

External links[edit]