Ford Airport (Dearborn)

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Ford Airport
Serves Dearborn, Michigan, United States
Location Dearborn, Michigan, United States
Built 1924
Coordinates 42°18′N 83°13′W / 42.300°N 83.217°W / 42.300; -83.217Coordinates: 42°18′N 83°13′W / 42.300°N 83.217°W / 42.300; -83.217

Ford Airport in Dearborn, Michigan, United States was one of the first modern airports in the world. It operated from 1924 to 1947, and the site is now part of Ford Motor Company's Dearborn Proving Ground.[1] The airport was about 360 acres (1.5 km²) in size.

This airport saw many world and U.S. "firsts": the first U.S. airport hotel, the first concrete runways, first U.S. scheduled passenger service, first contracted airmail service, first radio control for a commercial flight, first U.S. passenger terminal.[2] The buildings were designed by architect Albert Kahn and are considered to have greatly influenced the design of airports throughout the U.S.[3] The original aircraft hangars still exist and are in use as part of the current Ford testing facilities.

Latitude and Longitude: 42°18'0.42"N, 83°13'14.75"W

Historical timeline[edit]

  • 1924: 20,000 square foot (1,900 m²) Stout Metal Airplane Company factory opens (the Ford family were major investors and provided the land)[4][5]
  • 1924: November, Ford Airport is dedicated as the first modern airport, equipped with two grass runways and flood lights for night landings.
  • 1925: Henry Ford builds the largest, most modern and only privately owned permanent dirigible mooring mast. It was only used twice and demolished in 1946.
  • 1925: Ford Air Transport Service between "Detroit" (Dearborn) and Chicago begins.[6]
  • 1925-31: Annual National Air Tour to demonstrate safety and reliability of commercial aviation starts and ends at Ford Airport.
  • 1926: First regularly scheduled airline service begun by Stout on July 31 - between Grand Rapids, Michigan and Dearborn.[7]
  • 1926: First ever commercial Contract Airmail Route flights made over routes CAM-6 (Detroit-Cleveland) and CAM-7 (Detroit-Chicago) in a Ford Air Transport Service Stout 2-AT Pullman
  • 1926: First successful radio guided flight, using system developed by Ford Motor Company.
  • 1926: Stout factory is replaced with a 62,000 square foot (5,800 m²) facility to build new Ford Tri-Motors using assembly line production for the first time.
  • 1928-29: Grass runways are paved—the first concrete runways in the world.
  • 1931: July 1, the Dearborn Inn opens—one of the first hotels built to service the air traveler.[8]
  • 1938: First vehicle test track is laid down around outside of the runways.[9]
  • 1947: October 21, Ford Air Transport Office moves to Detroit Metropolitan Airport, ending Ford Airport operations.
  • 1961: Aug 11, passenger terminal razed.
  • 2003: June 9, five vintage airplanes, including two Ford Tri-Motors, fly into Dearborn Proving Grounds; the first time in 56 years the test track is used as an airport. The planes were part of the "Taking Flight: Ford's History in Aviation" exhibit, which was one facet of Ford Motor Company's 100th anniversary celebration.[10]
  • 2005: Major reconstruction and renovation work adds more test track surfaces and handling courses.
  • 2006: Site renamed as the Dearborn Development Center


  1. ^ Ford Airport, Heritage Newspapers/Dearborn Area, accessed Oct 20, 2009
  2. ^ Michigan Historical marker
  3. ^ Naked Airport: A Cultural History of the World's Most Revolutionary Structure, Alastair Gordon, University of Chicago Press, 2004, pages 43-44.
  4. ^ William B. Stout historical marker
  5. ^ Henry's attic: some fascinating gifts to Henry Ford and his museum, Ford Richardson Bryan, ed. Sarah Evans, 2006, Wayne State University Press, page 160
  6. ^ Ford Motor Company History Intertwined With Aviation, Experimental Aircraft Association, accessed Oct 20, 2009
  7. ^ HISTORY & STATISTICS, Gerald R. Ford International Airport, accessed June 12,2014
  8. ^ Dearborn Inn, Ford Motor Company: About Ford, The Dearborn Inn, 2009
  9. ^ Ford opens the Dearborn Development Center, Autoblog, Eric Bryant, June 22, 2006
  10. ^ Historic planes fly in to Ford Test Track, returning it to its roots as Ford Airport, Ford Motor Company, June 9, 2003, accessed October 20, 2009

External links[edit]