Meacham is the city’s oldest operating airport — dating to 1925. From its humble beginnings as a 100-acre site with runways made of dirt and sod, the airport has grown into a premiere general aviation airport.
Times have changed since places from Meacham International Airport first took to the sky. Air travel was a novelty back then, with the Wright brothers’ first manned flights taking place merely 20 years before. But the airport has grown and changed with the years, and celebrated its longevity on July 25, 2015, with a 90th birthday celebration.
Presently, the airport supports about 100,000 operations a year, including general aviation, military, air carrier and air taxi operations.
Fort Worth Municipal Airport began its operations in July 1925. Originally composed of just 100 acres, the early days of the facility saw aircraft operating from runways composed of dirt and sod. The young airport was founded by former Fort Worth mayor, Henry C. Meacham (1869-1929) and was renamed Meacham Field in his honor in 1927. He pledged $1,200 of his own money to build a caretaker’s cottage at the airport in 1925.
National Air Transport’s first air mail flight leaves Fort Worth Municipal Airport for Chicago with stops in Wichita, Kansas City, St. Joseph and Moline.
In February 1928, the first airline passenger to ever fly out of Texas on a scheduled airline flight departed from Meacham Field, headed for Oklahoma City. This event soon ushered in the era of regularly scheduled airline passenger service at the facility, beginning in 1929.
Meacham was the scene of the first aerial refueling as a world’s flight endurance record was set. In the first year of available records, Meacham had 4,511 aircraft and 5,446 passengers and crew use the field.
In 1932, the airport saw significant growth when American Airways (now American Airlines) relocated half of its southern division headquarters personnel and two of its airmail routes to Meacham from Love Field. American Airways dedicated a new hangar and office building in October 1933 and by 1936, the airport had paved its runways and constructed a new terminal building.
In 1937, Meacham opens a new terminal drawing a large crowd for activities dedicating the field’s new terminal facilities and runways.
When World War II started, Meacham Airport became part of the U.S. Navy’s network to move fighter planes and torpedo bombers built in New England across the country to the Pacific fleet.
The airport handled 80,576 military aircraft in 1944 and another 63,540 in 1945.
In 1946, Meacham recorded its busiest year with 167,267 private and military planes carrying 718,671 passengers.
With the airplanes also came the airplane repair businesses to Meacham, including Broadie's Aircraft which serviced Beech 18 and DC-3 planes, offering aircraft overhauls and fixing engines to keep planes running. The company is one of the oldest continuously operated businesses at Meacham, and moved into a new 64,000-square-foot hangar in 2012.
With the opening of Fort Worth International Airport to the east, all of the commercial airline operations moved from Meacham to the new airport.
The city builds new administration on Oct. 13, 1968, as a part of a $1 million in improvements at the field. Building construction cost was $800,000.
In 1975, Elvis bought a 1958 Convair 880 from Delta Air Lines and sent it to Meacham to have it refurbished and repainted. He spent more than $800,000 to add a living room, queen-sized bed and 24-karat-flecked sinks.
From 1985-2001, the airport relied on aviation training schools as well as a few large corporations that kept their planes at Meacham to keep the airport running. Since the airport does not charge landing fees, it gets its revenues from leases and fuel flowage fees for aircraft.
Started in 2012, The Leading Edge paint facility at Meacham paints all of Boeing’s new Dreamliners after they roll off the assembly line in South Carolina.
In 2014, American Airways Hangar is restored by fixed-base operator, American Aero.
Air Force One arrives March 20, 2014, to get a new paint job at the Leading Edge facility.
Fort Worth's municipal airport celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2015 with a major expansion, including new hangars and a renovated terminal and administration building.