Alaska February 13, 2020
One Of The Oldest Airports In The U.S., Merrill Field In Alaska Is Now 90 Years Old
Alaska has an incredible amount of history, and Merrill Field Airfield is a fascinating part of it. Located just east of downtown Anchorage, Alaska, this airport opened in 1930 and is still a busy hub to this day. Air travel is a significant part of life in many parts of Alaska, and this small airfield plays a big part.
Merrill Field is an airport located one mile east of downtown Anchorage.
Sitting on 436 acres, this is a small airport at the base of the Chugach mountain range. The airport opened in 1930 and was named Anchorage Aviation Field.
Russel Hyde Merrill was an excellent pilot who flew many of the first routes throughout Alaska.
He was the first pilot to cross the Gulf of Alaska, among many other notable feats, working in Anchorage and expanding the aviation community. His plane was lost on a flight in 1929, and the Anchorage Women's Club petitioned to have Anchorage Aviation Field renamed Merrill Field in his honor.
By 1931, Merrill Field was the busiest airport in Alaska, and one of the busiest airports in the world.
There were six airlines operating out of this airport, and it conducted 25% of all of Alaska's air traffic. By 1947, the runways had been paved and lengthened to accommodate the larger and faster aircraft beginning to fly into Alaska.
Merrill Field couldn't keep up with the increase in air traffic coming into Alaska, and construction on Anchorage International Airport (now Ted Stevens International Airport) began.
Even now, Merrill Field is still one of the busiest airports in the country. There are currently three active runways at this airport, and it has been classified as one of the largest flying schools in America.
This airport is a testament to the power of aviation in the Alaskan community.
Used with permission by Jeffrey Inglis
It's home to 844 aircraft, including single engine aircraft, multi engine, helicopters, and even one glider! There's also an unused Boeing 727 based in Merrill Field, but it is no longer air worthy. When it landed it was the largest aircraft to have landed at this airport.
Many people are surprised to learn that the airport still operates in winter.
Winter doesn't stop air traffic, so they go to great measures to make sure the runways are clear. The airport is plowed all winter long so aircraft can to continue to land safely.
The airport is open and friendly to visitors.
You can travel down Merrill Field Drive, a road that bisects the airport and is open to the public. Or you can stroll along a walkway that's set up with interpretive signs detailing historical information about the airport. It's a beautiful place to spend a couple hours exploring, especially as it is such a large part of Anchorage's history.
Have you ever visited or flown into this airport What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!
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Address: 800 Merrill Field Dr, Anchorage, AK 99501, USA