Walla Walla Regional Airport
Walla Walla Regional Airport
Walla Walla Army Air Base
2006 USGS Orthophoto
|Owner||Port of Walla Walla|
|Serves||Walla Walla, Washington|
|Location||Walla Walla County, Washington, U.S.|
|Elevation AMSL||1,194 ft / 364 m|
Walla Walla Regional Airport (IATA: ALW, ICAO: KALW, FAA LID: ALW) is a public airport in the western United States, located in Walla Walla County, Washington. It is three miles (5 km) northeast of central Walla Walla, and is owned by the Port of Walla Walla.
World War II
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 (0.8 km2) municipal airport as a nucleus, they commenced development of the Walla Walla Army Air Base, which ultimately comprised 2,164 acres (8.8 km2) of land. Over three hundred buildings were constructed and equipped to house, feed, and train approximately six thousand personnel.
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 four-engine bombers. The 91st 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 Delta Rebel, Jack the Ripper, and Memphis Belle, the first B-17 to complete 25 missions in Europe.
Late in 1943, the airfield lay idle when the Second Air Force withdrew its B-17 training operation. In April 1944, the Fourth Air Force took charge and established a training base for B-24 Liberator bomber crews.
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; a wing section from the B-24 is mounted above its "Bomber Bowl."
In 1947, the newly-formed U.S. Air Force declared the airfield as 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.
In 1965, the airport was a USAF dispersal base for fighter-interceptors of Air Defense Command, manned by the 325th Fighter Wing of McChord AFB, near Tacoma. Walla Walla was previously part of the 337th Fighter Group of Portland, Oregon.
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
Walla Walla Regional Airport covers an area of 2,319 acres (9.38 km2) which contains one concrete/grooved runway: 2/20 measuring 6,527 by 150 feet (1,989 m × 46 m). There is a VOR on the field that operates on 116.4 MHz.
For the 12-month period ending January 1, 2018, the airport had 28,206 aircraft operations, an average of 77 per day: 92% general aviation, 4% air taxi, 3% scheduled commercial and <1% military. At that time there were 88 aircraft based at this airport: 88 single-engine, 4 multi-engine, 1 helicopter, 4 ultralight and 1 glider. Walla Walla Regional Airport has 19 scheduled commercial roundtrip flights to Seattle each week.
Airlines and destinations
|Ameriflight||Pasco, Seattle–Boeing, Yakima|
Historical airline service
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.
- FAA Airport Master Record for ALW ( PDF), effective 2007-12-20
- History of the Walla Walla District, Corps of Engineers
- "Walla Walla base to new command". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). December 31, 1943. p. 3.
- "Fourth Air Force strength to be boosted, Army says". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). March 25, 1944. p. 1.
- "Bomber crashes near Wenatchee". Ellensburg Daily Record. (Washington). Associated Press. October 2, 1944. p. 1.
- "Snow comes". Ellensburg Daily Record. (Washington). Associated Press. November 13, 1992. p. 13.
- Walla Walla Regional Airport & Industrial Park
- "325th Fighter Wing takes over". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). September 26, 1965. p. 21.
- "Flight Schedule". Walla Walla Regional Airport. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
- http://www.transtats.bts.gov/airports.asp?pn=1&Airport=ALW&Airport_Name=Walla Walla, WA: Walla Walla Regional&carrier=FACTS
- Walla Walla Regional Airport, official site
- Walla Walla Regional Airport at WSDOT Aviation
- (PDF), effective September 12, 2019
- FAA Terminal Procedures for ALW, effective September 12, 2019
- Resources for this airport: