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Montgomery Regional Airport , also known as Dannelly Field, is a joint civil-military public airport located six miles (9.7 km) southwest of the central business district of Montgomerymarker, a city in Montgomery Countymarker and the capital of the U.S. state of Alabamamarker. It is mostly used for military and general aviation, but is also served by three commercial airlines.

History

From the outset, commercial aviation and military aviation have been intertwined in Montgomery. The first commercial air services in Montgomery operated at Maxwell Fieldmarker, a military facility founded by the Wright Brothers west of the city. To provide for the separate needs of commercial aviation, the City of Montgomery opened its original municipal airport in 1929 east of the city. This facility was later named Gunter Fieldmarker and was served by a predecessor of American Airlines. Eastern Air Lines subsequently took over service at Gunter.

In 1940 the War Department chose Gunter for a new pilot training facility. Gunter quickly became congested, Eastern Airlines was forced to move temporarily to Maxwell, and the city purchased a tract southwest of downtown on US 80 to replace Gunter for civilian aviation. Separately, the Army Air Force identified a need for seven auxiliary fields in the vicinity of Gunter and the city and USAAF agreed that the city's newly purchased site would also serve as Gunter's auxiliary field #6. It opened in 1943 and was named for ENS Clarence Moore Dannelly, Jr., USN, a Navy pilot killed in a 1940 training accident and considered to be the first casualty of World War II from Montgomery. The old Army Air Force hangars are now part of the Montgomery Aviation complex. The original three runways, and their original dimensions, were:
  • 3/21: 4,000 x Still exists today.
  • 9/27: 3,500 x Extended to in 1955. Extended to in 1963. Redesignated 10/28 in 1992.
  • 15/33: 4,000 x Closed in 1981. Some portions remain as taxiway and apron.


When Dannelly Field opened, Eastern moved its operations there. The city took title to Dannelly in 1946, although joint commercial and military use continued, and erected a permanent passenger terminal and control tower north of Runway 9/27 in 1955. While Runway 9/27 was being rebuilt in 1963, and again in 1970, commercial flights were temporarily diverted to Maxwell.

Facilities

Montgomery Regional (Dannelly Field) Airport covers 1,907 acres (772 ha) and has two runways:
  • Runway 10/28: 9,010 x 150 ft. (2,746 x 46 m), Surface: Asphalt. CAT I ILS and approach lights on both ends.
  • Runway 3/21: 4,010 x 150 ft. (1,222 x 46 m), Surface: Asphalt


The air carrier terminal has been expanded and modified several times since 1955. A $40 million capital program that finished in November 2006 doubled the size of the terminal, completely transformed its appearance, and modernized it with 2nd floor boarding, jetway loading bridges, and a rotunda with a domed ceiling that simulates sunrises, sunsets, and stars at night.

The air carrier apron, as well as the main runway and taxiways, can accommodate aircraft as large as the Boeing 747 and Antonov 124.

There are numerous corporate aviation hangars and support facilities. A proposal to extend Runway 3/21 to is currently under consideration. A new control tower was built in 1996 south of Runway 10/28.

Military use

The Alabama Air National Guard's 187th Fighter Wing (187 FW), based on the west side of the airport, operates a squadron of F-16C aircraft. The 187th Fighter Wing evolved from the 160th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron that began operating at Dannelly Field in 1953. During its history, the 187th and its predecessor have based several types of aircraft at Montgomery, including the RF-51 Mustang, RF-80 Shooting Star, RF-84 Thunderflash, RF-4 Phantom II, F-4 Phantom II and C-131 Samaritan.

The Alabama Army National Guard has an aviation support facility on the south side of the airport. Although primarily oriented to helicopter operations, fixed-wing aircraft can also be accommodated.

An Air National Guard Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) unit is located at the airport, equipped with multiple fire fighting and rescue vehicles, to augment the airport's civilian ARFF unit.

Airlines and destinations

Former airlines

Past airlines since 1955 have included Eastern Air Lines, Eastern Metro Express, Southern Airways, Republic Airlines, Piedmont Aviation, Sun Airlines, Southeast Air, South Central Air Transport (SCAT), Air Illinois, Ocean Airways, Continental Airlines, Continental Express and Northwest Airlink. Although 50-70 passenger regional jets are now the predominant scheduled aircraft, in past years airlines such as Delta operated the DC-9, MD-80, 737, 727, and briefly even the DC-8 on a scheduled basis.

References



  • Wesley Phillips Newton, "Origins and Early Development of Civil Aviation in Montgomery, 1910-1946," The Alabama Review, January 2004.


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