Airport History

Northeast Florida Regional Airport has a long and interesting history. The timeline begins in the 20th century:


  • As early as 1890’s balloon and glider experiments were carried out in St. Augustine.


  • In 1911, the Curtis Exhibition Company conducted airplane flights in conjunction with the St. Augustine Power Club. Even a race between an airplane and a speedboat, which, fortunately, was won by the airplane.
  • The years following provided wintertime barnstorming, races and passenger rides – even movies were filmed here using airplanes – the famous movie “The Perils of Pauline” included flying scenes filmed here.
  • In 1916 St. Augustine got its first flight school – training Canadian fliers for military service in Europe. The Little Links Golf Course: along the city’s Southside was taken over by the Army, graded and leveled and completed just in time for the armistice signing in 1918. The site was returned to recreational purposes.
  • The next decade saw sporadic appearances by barnstormers and veteran military pilots.
  • In 1928 St. Augustine acquired through a lease its first airport, located off of SR-16 and known as the old Lorillard race Track.


  • The New Deal in 1933 brought St. Augustine its first permanent airport on its present site.
  • With the outbreak of WWII in 1939 a military eye was again cast on the St. Augustine Airport, with improvements to the airfield being made. The attack on Pearl Harbor prompted the termination of civil aviation at the airport and the U.S. Navy took over the field in support of its operations at NAS JAX. The field was used as a gunnery range base.
  • The unprecedented growth in the U. S. economy following the war’s end resulted in air mail service and scheduled passenger service by two carriers.
  • Unfortunately, the boom was short-lived and by 1950 the field was overgrown with weeds and viewed by most local residents as a “white elephant.”
  • The airport was closed and leased to the Moose Lodge for $1.00/year.


  • Within a few years the airport again became a force in local economic development with the announcement by Fairchild Engine and Airplane Company that they would locate a large modification facility at the airport.
  • Announced in 1954, the facility opened its doors in 1955.
  • Given the nature of the company’s work, the facilities were expanded several times to meet the demand of Fairchild – the airport’s 8,000’ of runway is a direct result of the needs of the company.


  • Due to the complex nature of running an airport the City of St. Augustine supported legislation to create an Airport Authority to manage the facility. This occurred in 1963 and was approved by the voters in 1964.
  • An FBO was found and many other improvements were made including a terminal and hangars.
  • Things went well locally until the announcement in 1976 that Fairchild would close its facilities. This was a substantial blow to the local economy.


  • The Fairchild facilities remained idle for aviation purposes until its acquisition by Grumman in 1980.
  • The Grumman Corporation and the recently acquired and renamed Northrop-Grumman St. Augustine facilities provide overhaul and maintenance facilities for nearly all current military aviation hardware including the E-2C, Hawkeye, S-2 Tracker, A-6 Intruder, EA-6 Prowler and F-14 Tomcat.
  • The facility boasts the lowest cost units of all the Northrop-Grumman facilities and is a lean competitor on all aircraft contracts. This fact should assure the continued success of the facility in St. Augustine.
  • Other aircraft which have seen significant work accomplished here include the Grumman Goose, civilian overnight parcel carrier “FedEx” (Boeing 727’s), HU-16 Albatross, C119 Boxcar including the installation of jet Assist and its transformation into a gunship, and the Martin P-5M Flying Boats which accounts for the Sea Plane facilities at the airport.

Additional Information