Progression of the Redding Airport

redding_airportThe History
The Redding Airdrome preceded today’s Redding Municipal Airport. It was built in 1942 during World War II as a military flight training field by the Army Corps of Engineers. When construction was finished later that year, the airdrome became known as the Redding Army Airfield and also as the Redding-Shasta Army Airfield.

The newly completed airfield contained two runways: a 6,000-foot-long primary runway and a 5,062-foot-long runway built shorter for crosswind conditions.

Both of the runways still exist, although the longer runway has been reconstructed at least twice and was extended to 7,003 feet in the 1980s.

The airfield was garrisoned by the 433rd Army Air Force Base Unit under the command of the Fourth Air Force at Hamilton Army Airfield located along the western shore of San Pablo Bay, south of Novato.

The main mission of the Redding Army Airfield was to provide advanced flight training for aircrews before their deployment overseas into the World War II combat zones. A squadron of Bell P-39 Airacobras was based at the airfield and used for flight training. They were also used as an air defense unit during their stay at Redding.

The Airacobra was one of the principal American fighter aircrafts in service at the start of World War II. It was the first fighter plane in history to contain a tricycle undercarriage and the first to have its engine installed in the center fuselage, behind the pilot.

The main base was located on the east side of the current airport alongside Stillwater Creek. Access to the base was on Old Oregon Trail at the north entrance — where the original pavement still exists.

The long east side taxiway is no longer used for aeronautical purposes and hasn’t been for a long time. Today it is the location of the Redding Drag Strip.

Operational control of Redding AAF was transferred to the Sacramento Area Command headquartered at McClellan Army Airfield near Sacramento in 1944. While under the new command at Sacramento, the mission of the airfield changed from training aircrews to a refueling and maintenance facility for transient aircraft. It continued with this new mission until the end of the war.

In 1945, the military declared Redding AAF as excess for their requirements. In 1946, they turned it over to the city of Redding to operate as a civil municipal airfield. In 1949, the final paperwork was completed ending the military ownership of the airfield and the new ownership by the City of Redding.

The city of Redding had a small dilemma with its new asset. The original Redding Airport is what we know as Benton Airpark, built in the 1920s. To fix the dilemma, city officials renamed its original airport to Benton Airpark and named the new facility Redding Airport.

The Present
Today, Redding Municipal Airport is a full service regional airport: United Express and Horizon Air, although Horizon Air will end its service on April 17. In addition, the airport moves approximately 4 million pounds of cargo annually by FedEx and UPS.

It also provides aviation related services, has 110 aircraft hangars, 13 larger commercial and corporate-style hangars, and approximately 100 aircraft tie-downs.