Take a trip back in time...
On October 20, 1942, the War Department officially confirmed that the 1,207.2 acres of property south and east of Sturgis would be developed for use as an Air Command Base. Upon this official announcement, work immediately began on the airfield. the railroad belonging to the West Kentucky Coal Company ran through the site and consequently had to be relocated.
Since the construction of the airfield was taking place as a wartime effort, the general public was not informed of the construction at the base. Facts such as the cost of the project, number and size of the buildings to be constructed, and the number of military personnel expected to be stationed at the base were all left to speculation.
The first group of soldiers arrived just prior to the activation of the base on May 21, 1943. the group of 50-55 men traveled by train from Fort Knox, KY. Upon activation, the Sturgis Army Airfield was equipped with three runways 150 feet wide and 5000 feet long. The base also had eight barracks for the soldiers, two officers' quarters, two administration buildings, a link trainer, firehouse, infirmary, post exchange, recreation building, and various warehouses and supply rooms. The total construction cost of the airfield was $2,514,000.00
The Sturgis Army Airfield was used by tactical squadrons for bivouac training. Transient aircraft frequented the field to refuel and to receive minor maintenance. The soldiers stationed at the base were trained in chemical warfare, first aid, camouflage, and physical conditioning. The 506th Parachute Battalion completed their base jumps before moving on to a new post to complete combat training. the 572nd Squadron appeared for a short time to train with B-52s. The 391st Bomb Group completed a ten-day term bivouacking in the wooded area south of the field, receiving experience in field living conditions and several mock gas attacks.
After one year of operation as the Army Airfield, the base housed 100 men and nine officials. In 1945, a flood, recorded as the third worst in Sturgis history, engulfed the city. Seventy-four families were transferred to the Sturgis Army Airfield. the airfield donated several barracks and a mess hall in which to store their belongings, and to house and feed approximately 130 people who were stranded there.
The War Assets Administration declared the Sturgis Army Airfield surplus property in late 1946. Proceedings began to acquire the airfield, and in January 1948, the Sturgis - Union County Airport Board was formed. The purpose of this board was to acquire the airfield to maintain, manage, and operate it. The Sturgis Army Airfield was officially transferred without funds on July 13, 1948 to the Sturgis - Union County Airport Board. All easements pertinent to the Field were also transferred to the board. This included 23 buildings of various types, such as warehouses, hangars, motor repair shops and snow removal, mowing, fire fighting, and maintenance equipment.
On July 18, 1948 the Sturgis Municipal Airport officially opened. In its early conception, most of the improvements made to the airport were done to the grounds rather than to the actual airfield. The Union County Fair Board built a 1/2 mile horse track, exhibition hall, and grandstand. In 1973, the board was awarded $60,000 from Federal and State sources for lighting the north-south runway. This award included funds for the runway, taxiway, threshold lights, rotating beacon, lighted wind cone, and VASI.
Sturgis Municipal Airport