KINGMAN MUNICIPAL AIRPORT
Historical roots paved the airport’s runway for success
Kingman, Arizona has been a transportation hub since before the United States was carved into its current map. From stagecoach through rail Kingsman would eventually become the heart of the fabled Auto Route 66. But when it comes to transportation, perhaps the most interesting story is that of the Kingsman Municipal Airport, or as it was originally called, The Kingman Army Airfield, one of the largest training facilities for the Air Force in World War Two, training some 35,000 soldiers.
“The airport was created by the US Army Air Force as an air gunnery school,” explains Doug Breckenridge, General Manager for the Kingman Municipal Airport, “and the individuals who came here were mainly training how to use the weapons on the back of the B17 Bombers, and the B24 and B25s. They even trained here with some of the smaller dive bombers. As the war progressed and finally finished, the facility switched from an air military school to an aircraft storage facility. There were thousands of those same bombers stored here for several years after the war as well as other military aircraft.”
When the war ended, the facility was transformed and became a disassembling facility for the first three years. Everything of use was removed and then the plane would be cut into pieces and placed in a smelter. Three furnaces were operated at Kingman for melting about 70% of an airplane’s metal components into ingots. The furnaces were run 24 hours a day and could consume up to 35 aircraft a day. The main contractor, Wunderlich, recovered 57 million pounds of aluminum, and 21 million pounds of steel having stripped 85 reconnaissance aircraft, 615 fighters, 54 light bombers, 266 medium bombers, and 4,463 heavy bombers.
“After that, the airport switched over and was given to Mohave County under the war surplus act,” explains Breckenridge, “and over time ownership went from Mohave County to the city of Kingman. In that meantime, it was a standard general aviation airport. We did have some commercial traffic earlier, but most of the income up until the 1990s was still coming from aircraft storage, but it switched to airlines, private companies, and a much more diverse group of aircraft,” he adds. “There are currently 281 stored aircraft, and we are seeing a massive increase because of the changes in the airline industry. We have 65 General Aviation Aircraft on the field and see from 10-15 operations a day.”
Kingman Airport covers an area of 4,200 acres and has two asphalt runways: 3/21 is 6,827 by 150 feet while 17/35 is 6,725 by 75 feet. Air’Zona Aircraft Services operate the FBO and provide fuel. There are Executive and T-Hangars for rent and lease, as well as tie-downs. Kingman Airline Services offers storage, maintenance, and disassembly of commercial aircraft, keeping the tradition alive. They are located along Route 66 and just five miles from Interstate 40 – there is rail and highway access to the airport and with the proximity to Las Vegas, Phoenix, and even southern California, there are over 34 million people within a day’s drive from Kingman.
“The other thing that we have here is a great relationship with the city,” Breckenridge adds, “The airport falls under the management of the city, and they have been very responsive when it comes to assisting the airport with capital projects and economic development. We have been working with the city, the airport, and our industrial park on infrastructure development – we just had a meeting with our tenants, and they were discussing the massive improvements they have seen over the last couple of years and could not be more pleased. We are very customer friendly, and business oriented here.”
“Our industrial park also has a very close relationship between economic development and the airport,” interjects Bennett Bratley, the Industrial Park Manager. “One of the things that we do on the economic development side is to manage and market the land. The way that it works is that we have the city-owned properties on the industrial park side and since we have so much land, the Airport has 3000 acres, and the park is another 1100. There are some 75 businesses located within the park, but both here and on the airport land there is extra property, so we look at land release, sale, and lease projects to increase revenue. For example, we recently sold a 30-acre site to a developer who then leased that property to FedEx, and they built a 200,000-square-foot distribution center. That property sold for $1.9 million, and the sale proceeds went into a fund that will be invested into the airfield over five years.”
“In the Industrial Park we have a lot of businesses that are directly related to aviation,” he continues, “Honeywell Landing gear systems, for example, there are aircraft repair facilities, we have Goodyear, who refurbishes aviation tires, Arturos Aircraft Interiors who do the upholstery inside of the aircraft. So, through the industrial park, we do make money, but there is also a relationship with many additional benefits making the airport a very attractive environment for job creation, as well as an opportunity for new business.”
For this calendar year, Kingsman Municipal has budgeted for over $35 million worth of capital projects on the airfield and in the industrial park. This includes drainage base repair, refurbishing the main taxiway – which will also open additional sections of the ramp, creating some 15 acres for additional business use, and then there will be more land release projects. They are also working on an environmental cleanup which will finally reclaim 50 acres now contaminated with Aluminum dross leftover from the smelting of planes.
“The runway rehabilitation was done in 2020-21 with FAA grants to the tune of roughly three million dollars,” says Breckenridge, “and we have an additional upcoming taxiway project for which we are seeking five million. We work with the FAA for the infrastructure inside of the fence, while the city and county look after the infrastructure in the industrial park.
“The Arizona Department of Transportation is also a key player in funding,” he adds. All this ultimately works together to benefit the city. We work with the Kingman and Mohave Manufacturers Association, and we also have an airport advisory Commission, the Kingman Industrial Park Airport Advisory Commission, where it’s a group of individuals, pilots, and anyone interested in the airport’s growth who meet with representatives from the city that provide their input and advice on certain airport matters and mainly focus on the airport master development plan as the airport grows. It is a great process, and we get a lot of recommendations that will lead to a better route forward.”
When asked about the next few years at the airport, Breckenridge admits that he sees them moving further and further towards a business atmosphere. “Yes, we are a general aviation facility, and we will maintain this,” he offers.
“However, we offer so much in terms of maintenance and refurbishment to the business market, and we are starting to see an increase in those businesses. But there is also charter, and storage, “ he elaborates. “We have a diversified income stream here and once we get the land lease agreements sorted out and create the additional south of the airport, it’s going to open the airport up for more development. So, I do see this airport growing more in terms of aviation, support, and maintenance facilities, and perhaps even more businesses stationing their aircraft here.”
AT A GLANCE
Kingman Municipal Airport
What: Arizona airport servicing mainly private aircraft
Where: Kingman, Arizona
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