Evansville Municipal Airport (Evansville Regional Airport) was originated and financed by a $190,000 Evansville city bond issued in 1928. The bond provided for the purchase of 260 acres of land along U.S. Highway 41 and funded the airport's initial development. Airport construction between the years 1928-1929 included: a small terminal, weather bureau, hangar, transformer building with a light beacon, two 100 foot x 1,200 foot asphalt runways, boundary lights, grading, and drainage work. On October 19,1928, Interstate Airlines established Evansville as a stop for their Chicago-Atlanta and St. Louis-Louisville routes. Capital Air Corporation also initiated daily passenger service at Evansville Municipal Airport in 1928.
Evansville Mayor Herbert Males appointed the first Board of Aviation Commissioners on September 6, 1929. At this time there were thirty aircraft based at the airport. Only fifteen of these aircraft were able to be stored inside of the hangar. The two 100 foot x 1,200 foot runways which were four inches thick cost $30,000 to complete. The official dedication of the Evansville Municipal Airport and it's runways took place on June 16,1930. In October over 25,000 Tri-State residents attended an air show that celebrated the opening of the new Evansville Municipal Airport terminal. Werner J. Genot was named the first Evansville Airport Manager on December 16, 1930.
Century Airlines established passenger service at the Evansville Municipal Airport in 1931.
The airport was without a commercial airline from February 1933 through September 1940. At that time Eastern Airlines brought four commercial flights a day to Evansville Municipal Airport. This service to the area pointed out the need for the expansion of the airport's services. Mayor Dress and the Airport Board realized the benefits Evansville could receive from an enlarged airport, so a plan for expansion was developed.
In 1942, war leases at Evansville Municipal Airport began with Republic Aviation in May and the U.S. Government in August. During World War II, the airport was an operations base for ferrying aircraft detachments. In September, 1942, Republic Aviation completed the first Thunderbolt (P-47) aircraft. Some 6,075 Thunderbolt aircraft were manufactured in Evansville by Republic and delivered throughout the country and to overseas battlefront.
Because of imminent Army takeover in 1943, the Airport Board purchased 148 acres of land on Slaughter Avenue near Burkhardt Road for an auxiliary airport. The cost of construction was $63,000 and by June all private flying was diverted to this new airport leaving only military and commercial service conducted here. Organizations that operated there included: Evansville Flight Service, Culver Flying Service, and Midwest Air Transport. The Airport Board sponsored a contest for a $100 war bond as the prize for naming the new airfield. Jerry Newman (a nine year old) and Mrs. Edna Duncan, each submitted the same entry, Evansville Memorial Airport. This became the official name of the auxiliary field in January of 1944. This year also brought the first car rental service to the airport, U-Drive Service began when the Airport Board approved the operation of Mr. Drachman's Evansville truck rental service.
A new airport terminal complex opened in 1950 at a construction cost of $787,000. On October 11, 1950, the Evansville City Council passed an ordinance to change the name of Evansville Municipal Airport to the Dress Memorial Airport, in honor of Mayor Dress. The terminal was dedicated on Sunday October 29, 1950. The food concessions were retained by the Airport Board until September of 1951, when Wicks Associates took over the concessions operations. In 1951, there were 79 aircraft based at the airport; 25 owned by fixed base operators, 41 private, 12 company and 1 National Guard aircraft. The total airport property consisted of 467 acres, of which 347 were utilized for aircraft operations and the remainder was leased for agriculture.
The Airport Board entered into lease agreements for the first time in 1958. The parking lot was leased to the Airport Parking Company, a new hangar and two old hangars were leased to Cresent City Aviation, and additional land was leased to Charles Jamison for development. The Airport Board also agreed to sub-lease with Cresent City Aviation and Mead Johnson and Company for a hangar to house their corporate aircraft. In 1959, the Airport Authority District was created. The Dress Memorial Airport entered the jet age for the first time in 1959 with the arrival of Eastern Airlines jet-prop "Electras".
In 1964, the first pure jet on the airport was a TWA 707 which practiced touch and go landings. The first jet to actually land at the airport was a chartered 727 in September with Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater on board.
On May 25, 1970, the airport was again renamed to become "Evansville Dress Regional Airport" to illustrate the increased influence of the airport in the Tri-State area. In October, terminal expansion began at a cost of $350,000. The Airport Authority Board also adopted the Airport Master Plan as contemplated by the Burke Master Plan Study. This plan recognized the need for either a substantial reconstruction and enlargement of the existing terminal building or the construction of a totally new facility.
The passenger terminal expansion was completed in June of 1971 and the facility was formally dedicated on October 12, 1971. In December, the Airport Authority received grant approval for the reconstruction of the passenger loading ramp, the south taxiway, the addition of a new diagonal taxiway segment, a 6-inch asphaltic overlay of the northeast/southwest runway (4-22) , and the purchase of a Crash/Fire/Rescue (C/F/R) vehicle.
The Airport Authority Board recognized Teamster Local #215 as the bargaining agent for maintenance and custodial personnel in 1973. In April, the Airport Authority Board received proposals for the construction of an airport motel. The construction was to include a minimum of 100 rooms, a restaurant, and a service station. This contract was awarded to the K-T Development Company for the construction and lease of the motel. In November, the airport assumed the self-operation of the parking lot from the Airport Parking Lot Company of America. An improvement project was initiated in 1974, to renovate the parking lot which consisted of an asphaltic overlay of the entire lot, construction of a new parking area, construction of a new entrance-exit fronting Highway 41, new cashier booth, additional and improved lighting, installation of automated gate equipment, construction of an employee lot, and additional security fencing. Total expenditures during 1974 for the parking lot improvements were $205,000. Reconstruction and renovation of the airport restaurant, lounge, and gift shop was completed by the end of their first year in service at the airport.
The construction of a new FAA control tower also began in 1974. Air Host was awarded the rights to provide food services at the airport. On April 13, 1975, more than 10,000 visitors attended a formal open house at the airport. The special event featured parachute jumps and displays of military aircraft. In late April, the FAA installed an air surveillance radar tower and equipment to assist pilots when landing during intense fog and other adverse weather conditions. Delta Airlines marked it's 30th year of service at the Evansville Dress Regional Airport in June. The airport became a self-supporting public agency operated by the Evansville Vanderburgh Airport Authority District in 1975.
Wings Airlines began service in Evansville in May of 1976 with four flights daily between Evansville and Cincinnati. In July, preliminary plans were approved by the Airport Authority for the expansion of the airport terminal. The airport became a fuel stop for the all women's International Air Race Inc. the "Angel Derby" and the FAA control tower was completed and dedicated in October, 1976.
Comair began service from Evansville with two flights daily to Cincinnati and one to Louisville in April of 1977. The airport became an approved fuel stop in November for the Air Race Classic, Ltd. which started in Santa-Rosa California.
In 1979, an all time record high of 258,996 passengers traveled through the airport's terminal In July of 1979, the Airport Authority Board voted to construct a new terminal building. Britt Airways brought four daily flights to the airport in October of 1979.
1980 - In 1980, the Airport Authority Board approved the Master Plan for the airport which included the rerouting of Indiana State Road 57. At this time, it was evident that the most viable solution would be the construction of a new relocated passenger terminal complex. In February of 1981, the Airport Authority Board voted to remodel the Evansville Dress Regional Airport terminal. The remodeling would help the old terminal handle the recent increases in passenger traffic while the new terminal was being built. On September 3, the FAA issued a finding of "no significant impact" for the development of Evansville Dress Regional Airport's new terminal. The project included construction of a new passenger terminal building, aircraft parking ramp, and connecting taxiways and automobile parking services. This project included the relocation of S.R. 57 and the acquisition of land for road relocation and development.
1982 - In 1982, the Airport Authority Board approved an agreement with the Evansville Redevelopment Commission for the land required for the relocation of S.R. 57. In July, the Airport Authority Board approved the relocation of S.R. 57 along the alignment which intersects with U.S. Highway 41. The beginning of Phase 1 work on the Terminal Expansion Project also started in July.
1983 - On May 3, 1983, during a special public meeting, the Airport Authority Board adopted the Terminal Complex Layout Alternative #1. In late July, the Airport Authority Board approved the sale of general obligation bonds in the amount of $10 million for the purpose of providing funds for the new terminal. These funds would be applied towards the construction of a new passenger terminal complex, associated aircraft ramps and taxiways, new terminal access roadways, and public auto parking services. However, in August, the $10 million general obligation bond was successfully stopped by some area residents. They felt the issuance of the general obligation bonds (repaid by property taxes) was not the proper way to finance the local share of the project. December 1983 brought about the official ribbon cutting for the opening of the new S.R. 57. In November of 1984, Piedmont Airlines began service from Evansville to Dayton.
1985 - On February 25, 1985, the Airport Authority Board, the Mayor of Evansville, and other local community and business leaders persuaded the local state legislative delegation that the best and fairest method of financing the local share of construction costs for the new terminal would be through the adoption of a tax on food and beverage in Vanderburgh County. On March 22, the Indiana General Assembly enacted House Bill 1424 and in June, the Vanderburgh County Council adopted the 1 % food and beverage tax. This enabled the airport to issue bonds in the amount of $12 million to finance the non-federal portion of the new terminal complex. The actual effective date of the tax was August 1, 1985. Republic Express (Northwest Airlink) began service from Evansville to Memphis in late August.
1986 - On January 27, 1986, the official ground breaking ceremony was held for the new terminal location. American Eagle began service from Evansville to Nashville in May of 1986.
October brought Ozark Midwest (Trans World Express) service from Evansville to St. Louis. On December 30, 1986, the Airport Authority Board issued the $12 million bond for the construction of the new terminal and associated items.
1987 - In January of 1987, the Airport Authority Board approved the contract for the construction of the new terminal. It was awarded to Industrial Contractors Inc. for a total amount of $9,158,143. On April 13, the Airport Authority Board approved changing the name of the airport from Evansville Dress Regional Airport to Evansville Regional Airport. The formation of the Airline Search and Service Committee was approved in December. Their goal was to improve the current air carriers service, check into the possible interests of other air carriers not serving Evansville, as well as to analyze the national trend of decreasing enplanements.
1988 - In June of 1988, the Airport Authority Board approved the name of the new terminal building, upon completion, to be the William H. Dress Terminal. In September, United Express began service from Evansville to Chicago and Eastern Airlines stopped their service in Evansville. The airport's new entrance-exit road was named Bussing Drive in September in honor of W.C. Bussing, the president of the Airport Authority Board at that time. On November 15, the construction of the new terminal building was completed. In December, 1988, a three day dedication was conducted at the new terminal building. The events included: a wine and cheese party for travel agents, a formal ribbon cutting with bands, choirs, full military honors, and poetry, a key note speech from U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, a VIP dinner and dance, a public open house, live TV and radio reports, parachute jumps, airline ticket giveaways, numerous military aircraft displays and live entertainment. Over 57,000 people attended the three day event.
1989 - On January 16, 1989, operations began at the new terminal building. The Airport Authority Board approved the formation of a marketing effort in July. This project was to make the new terminal more passenger friendly, start advertising efforts on behalf of the airport, and improve the quality of air service for the Tri-State area. In December, valet service returned to the airport.
1990 - In January, 1990, the Airport Authority Board provided the go ahead for the building of a new aircraft rescue fire fighting facility. The multi-level facility includes four emergency vehicle parking bays, storage areas for safety equipment and supplies, administrative office space, parking areas, dormitory and kitchen services, and a watch alarm room that provides airfield surveillance of all airport operations. Ninety percent of the cost was paid for by the FAA. , The Airport Authority began work to be designated a foreign trade zone in March and the airport hired a national aviation consultant to begin market developments for jets and expanded regional services. On October 24, Evansville Regional Airport conducted a mock airplane crash disaster drill to fulfill the requirements of the FAA.
1991 - On January 16, 1991, Operation Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm, and airports throughout the country instituted extra security measures due to the Gulf War. ,. The Airport Authority Board approved the construction of a new $400,000 National Weather Service office at the airport in July. In September, it was decided that the airports security would be linked to the advanced emergency communications system.
1992 - In January of 1992, the Airport Authority Board approved initial steps to demolish the old terminal building and other structures on the airport's west side. The approval for the construction of a new sheriffs substation on airport property was also given in January by the Airport Authority Board.
On June 1, USAir began non-stop flights to Charlotte, N.C. using 37-passenger Boeing deHavilland DASH-8 prop jets. The first week in June, the airlines began a week long half-price air fare war that touched off a buying frenzy. In June, an Evansville delegation toured the new "NEXRAD" system - or the Next Generation of Weather Radar and determined that the Evansville area was not going to get the national weather service coverage needed. The city asked President Bush to help Evansville obtain a new advanced Doppler radar system and fight the National Weather Services decision to close Evansville's weather office.
In the June issue of the national trade publication Business & Commercial Aviation, Evansville Regional Airport was featured as having the best air service of any U.S. city in the 127,000 inhabitant class. Late July brought the news that Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) was expanding service with the addition of a round trip flight between Evansville and Atlanta. About 1,500 to 2,000 passengers flew with ASA through Evansville each month, and demand was high enough to warrant an extra daily flight.
Airline boarding in July of 1992 at Evansville Regional Airport jumped 24% to 23,836 passengers marking the busiest July in history and the second busiest month ever recorded at the airport. The number of Evansville Regional's enplanements in August was 21,038, an increase of over 8.5% over the year before.
In early October, USAir machinists' union went on strike against the nation's sixth largest airline. Because of the strike, USAir scaled back local operations, including canceling four jet flights out of Evansville. However, two daily non-jet flights were added and USAir largely kept to it's normal flight schedule. A tentative agreement was reached between the machinists and USAir on October 8, and jet service was immediately returned to Evansville by USAir. In a report by the Aviation Association of Indiana, it was reported that Evansville airport pumps $41.7 million into the local economy.
In late November, the Airport Authority Board approved changes in the Air Host operations. These changes included expanding the gift shop, moving the snack bar into the restaurant, and changing the cafeteria service to personal menu service. The Airport Authority Board granted Koberstien Trucking from Princeton, Indiana, a contract to tear down the old airport terminal. The cost for this project was $276,000. During the holiday season, Evansville Regional Airport decked it's halls with a twenty foot Northern Spruce tree. The artificial spruce is 140 inches wide at it's base and weights 4,400 pounds. Passenger traffic was up 2.9% at Evansville Regional Airport in 1992, making the first annual increase in three years.
1993 - At the June 28, 1993 meeting, the Airport Authority voted to ban smoking in all public areas of the terminal building. On July 1, 1993, the "Stars and Stripes" Goodyear blimp was moored at Tri-State Aero, and was in Evansville for the annual Freedom Festival.
Evansville Regional Airport was granted Foreign Trade Zone status by the U.S. Department of Commerce on July 8, 1993. This allows goods and materials to be brought to the airport without paying duty or excise taxes, and without complying with certain import restrictions. Trans World Express added another daily flight between Evansville and St. Louis on August 8. This brought Evansville eight daily round trips to St. Louis.
Northwest Airlink began two daily round trip flights between Evansville and Detroit on October 1. In November, the U.S. Postal Service leased 2,985 square feet on the apron level of the terminal building and 1,200 square feet for outside vehicle parking space for an "Air Mail Facility" at Evansville Regional Airport. Enplanements for the month of November 1993 were up 9.34% over the previous year.
1994 - On March 28, 1994, Chicago Express Airlines started service between Evansville and Chicago Midway Airport with four daily round trip flights. On August 22, a petition was started for Doppler Radar installation at the existing National Weather Service Office located at the Airport. In 1994, over 5,000 students toured the Evansville Regional Airport, they enjoyed the model airplanes display and they were educated about the airport's operations, runways, taxiways, and the Instrument Landing System (ILS).
1995 - Evansville Regional Airport purchased another aircraft rescue and fire fighting vehicle from the Oshkosh Truck Corporation on March 27, 1995. The cost of this vehicle was $298,000 and the FAA's grant covered $279,000 of the vehicles cost.
1996 - For the first time in over four years, boarding increased at Evansville Regional Airport, beginning in January and continued throughout the year, with a total percentage gain of over 7%.
In may, Mayor Frank McDonald, II, Airport Board president Bill Brooks and other local dignitaries cut the ribbon on two new ADA approved elevators in Holdrooms “A” and “B.” With the addition of the two elevators, Evansville Regional Airport is one of the most user friendly airports in the country.
1997 - Evansville area and Evansville Regional Airport receive national recognition. The March 21st issue of “The Kiplinger Letter” gave the area high marks for growth, “Strong growth in Southern Indiana…counties around Evansville.” Three major plants were in the works; a $1-billion AK Steel Mill at Rockport, IN which employed around 400, a $700 million Toyota plant which employed 1,300 in Gibson County, and a $200 Million ConAgra operation with 175 workers at Mt. Vernon, IN. All three of these plants were set to open in 1998.
In August the Airport received a $1.5 million grant from the Build Indiana Fund, and $1,000,000 dollars from the U.S. Department of Commerce to construct the infrastructure needed for the development of the Airports Foreign Trade Zone.
1998 - Boardings for 1998 were the highest in the history of the Airport. The Evansville Regional Airport had 261,272 passengers board departing flight, this was an increase from last year by 9.5%.
2000 - William L. Brooks, Jr. resigned as President of the Airport Board in February, due to health problems. Mr. Brooks helped the airport tremendously through.his years. Also stepping down was Assistant Airport Manager Jeff Mulder.
In June, Mayor Russell G. Lloyd, Jr. appointed H.C. “Bud” Farmer to the Board to fill the vacancy left by Mr. Brooks. Mr. Farmer brings to the board his expertise in business and construction as the retired principle of Evansville Concrete, Inc. but also his familiarity with aviation as a pilot and aircraft owner.
Terminal improvements in 2000 included a new Flight Information Display System that provided customers with real time flight information that is both available by telephone and internet access. The Carpet in the Terminal was also replaced providing a new look to the place as well as adding color.
2001 - On September 11, the commercial air travel system faced its greatest disaster. As a result of the terrorist attacks Evansville Regional Airport, along with every other airport in the nation, closed its runways as the FAA grounded all air traffic. Air service was not restored until September 14 with the arrival an ASA Delta Connection flight with one passenger aboard. As a result of this attack extra security measures were implemented to protect the safety of passengers such as, a 300 ft. perimeter parking restriction for the terminal building which closed the short term parking lot.
2002 - The newly formed Transportation Security Administration (TSA) began hiring personnel and taking over the security of all airports that had commercial air service.
In late April, Evansville Regional Airport started working on restoring flights to Indianapolis lost after September 11th. Along with several other Airports in Indiana, work began to launch an Airline that would offer flights to and from Indiana’s small cities and the State Capital with could connect the Northern and Southern parts of the state with air service.
Thousands of people packed the Airport in June to see the US Navy Blue Angels for a second year. Many aircrafts were on display during the Freedom Festival.
2003 - Evansville Regional Airport celebrates its 75th year of operation while the nation celebrated the 100th Anniversary of Orville and Wilber Wright’s first flight in December at Kitty Hawk, NC.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) worked tirelessly to tighten security all over the nation and to do so in a uniform manner. TSA’s goal to provide a single level of security throughout the nation seemed an impossible talk but ended up enjoying tremendous success. Besides the intense screening program, in which more than 4.8 million items were confiscated nationwide, the institution of fingerprinting and performing criminal background check for all employees with unescorted access to stationed areas of the airports was conducted.
2005 - Evansville Regional Airports boardings continued to climb in 2005, as predicted by Airport officials. The loss of USAirways had very little impact on Airport boardings. Airline passengers benefited as major airlines continued to lower prices to lure passengers back into the air. The low priced tickets, hefty fuel costs, challenging labor negotiations and mounting pension obligations added up to more worries for airlines. As the price of crude oil continued to soar, the legacy airlines of United USAirways, Delta, and Northwest filed for bankruptcy.
The Blue Angels returned to Evansville for the Freedom Festival for another year making it the third time in the last five years. In addition to the Blue Angels a B17, Flying Fortress (one of only ten left flying) made a visit to Evansville and offered tours and flights to the general public.
The past eighty one years at Evansville Regional Airport has provided Tri-State residents with a local airport that provides convenience and quality services. Today, Evansville Regional Airport is an important component in the nation’s aviation industry that offers over forty flights a day to destinations around the country. With a focus on innovation and customer service, Evansville Regional Airport will continue to provide services that meet the business and non-business air traveler needs and be an effective economic engine and job producing catalyst for the community.
|Werner J. Genof||December, 1930|
|Guthrie May||May, 1933|
|Ivan Hillyard||June, 1935|
|H. F. Carlson||April, 1940|
|Emory Boelson||February, 1942|
|Addison J. Perry||June, 1956|
|Donald Tharp||December, 1958|
|Col. James Geyer||July, 1966|
|Col. James B. Stapleton||December, 1969|
|Robert H. Working||February, 1986|
|Douglas P. Joest||July 2010|