The Airport has been an important part of Boulder’s history since its origin as “Hayden
Field” in the 1920s.
early years, a small group of aviation pioneers started up the “Silver Wing
Aircraft Company”, one of the first aircraft manufacturers in the nation.
Their premier aircraft, a two-seat plane with silver wings, was test
flown on April 14, 1928
in front of a crowd of 1,000 spectators.
Although the factory was located near 28th St
and Pine St, the company built the airfield’s first hangar and secured the
title to the Hayden
Lake tract to officially designate the
strip as an airport.
addition to constructing the Silver Wing aircraft, they also ran Boulder’s first flight school.
19, 1938, Boulder
citizens gathered to witness the first Air Mail flight, ushering in the era
of trans-continental mail flights.
1, 1943, the City of
purchased 36 acres of the Hayden Field property and re-named it Boulder
Shortly after its purchase, the city graded the primary runway,
installed runway markers, and built the first city-owned hangar (Hangar F)
on the north side of the runway.
During World War II, the airport was home to the Army Air
Corps’ Civilian Pilot Training Program, training U.S. Navy aircrew how to
fly the J-3 “Cub” trainer and surveillance plane.
At that time, the airport had three runways.
The primary runway was in the same location as the current Runway
8/26, but the field also had two diagonal runways composed of grass.
Between 1953 and 1969, numerous improvements were made at
In 1953, the
Airport installed runway lights and a flashing beacon.
In 1958, the Civil Aeronautical Administration (now known as the
Federal Aviation Administration) gave the Airport its first grant of $50,000
which helped the City fund a $100,000 project to pave the primary runway.
In 1958 and 1959, the City of Boulder purchased an
additional 37 acres of land that now consists of the main hangar area and
eastern end of the runway.
1964 and 1969, the airport saw the construction of two t-hangars and two
In the 1977,
once again became home to a ground-breaking airplane manufacturer known as
Pete Bartoe Jr..
the University of Colorado School of Engineering and former President of
Ball Brothers Research Corporation (now known as Ball Aerospace), Bartoe
shook up the aviation industry by designing and building the “Jet Wing” at
Boulder Municipal Airport.
jet was the first to incorporate a unique wing design that allowed it to
travel as slow as 45 mph, which was significantly slower than any jet had
opened up jet use for smaller airports and contributed to future designs of
Navy aircraft carrier based aircraft.
Bartoe followed up his Jet Wing creation with an equally
impressive bi-plane called the “Skyote”.
small size, impressive power, and gravity-defying acrobatic capabilities
quickly made it a sought-after asset.
Though neither plane were built for mass production, Bartoe and his
ingenious design group put Boulder on the aviation map.
As early as 1975, gliding became a popular aspect of
aviation at the airport.
fact, Boulder has established
itself as one of the prominent gliding locations in the United States
due to its short distance from the mountains and its “mountain wave” weather
During its rich
history, Boulder has been the
starting place of several record breaking glider flights.
On Dec 29, 1976, a Schweitzer 1-34 sailplane set a new
altitude record by reaching a height of 44,100 feet above sea level.
On Jun 7, 2004, a Ventus 2b sailplane conducted the first 1000
km glider flight out of Boulder,
and was only the second time 1000 km had been surpassed by anyone in the
State. Once released from it’s Boulder-based tow plane, the 8 hour and 38
minute flight to New Mexico
and back was conducted entirely without a motor.
Aviation awards of all types have been awarded to pilots
and aircraft based at Boulder
In 1976, a female pilot from the Boulder Aerobatic Club won numerous
awards and was named one of the nation’s top 5 pilots, allowing her to
represent the U.S. at the World Aerobatic
Championships in Kiev,
Other members of her
aerobatic team also won awards at regional and national contests, quickly
making a name for themselves and
The Airport has also served an important role to the
community over the years by providing a home for critical service and
The Boulder chapter of the
Civil Air Patrol (CAP) not only owns a glider that is used to train cadets
on the fundamentals of flight, but they launch critical search and rescue
missions from the Airport using their single-engine surveillance airplane.
The summer of 1994 was one of the driest on record,
causing the wildfire threat to be high.
County's fires were
contained before they got too large partly because of a single engine air
tanker stationed at the Airport.
Government agencies in the area, such as the
Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have also
called the Airport home.
location allows them to easily launch research aircraft into the skies and
gather critical data on the Earth’s atmosphere and weather patterns.