Convening literary, cultural, & historical programs for the people of Colorado

Help Us Preserve Colorado Airport History .

Colorado Humanities has awarded a 2010-11 Research award to the Colorado Airport History Preservation Project under the direction of volunteer Dr. Penny Hamilton to begin to inventory the available airport history for Colorado’s 74 existing public use airports and other important airport and aviation history.    

If you have photographs, files, or other information about Colorado’s community airports, won’t you share them with us to preserve that heritage?  Help us by visiting with your airport manager and historical association to capture the wonderful story and history of your airport.  

Like Colorado itself, Colorado’s airports are relatively young. Just after World War I, many “Barnstormers” literally descended on rural Colorado and introduced a new way of thinking about time and distance. Due to the vastness of Colorado and the difficulties inherent in mountain travel, the old saying, “a mile of road will take you one mile, but a mile of airstrip or runway will take you anywhere,” was never more true than in Colorado.

 The new reality brought to Colorado by the barnstormers and later, by Charles Lindbergh, resulted in the construction of dozens of airstrips and even airports.   

    Before it is lost, the history of each airport needs to be recorded and preserved.

During the early 1930s, many Colorado communities and aviation/airports thrived because of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) which built runways and even terminal buildings for rural Colorado. The world was getting much smaller when planes became faster because distance was now measured in even shorter time. But, by the early 1950s, many community airports needed upgrades such as runway paving, landing lights and environmentally safe fuel.  

 The history of Colorado public use-community airports is often a reflection of the leadership and vision of a few community leaders. If the airport is named after someone, what is the significance and legacy of the person to that community and Colorado history or “herstory?” Almost 20% of Colorado’s 76 public use airports have historic names.     

 This research on Colorado airport history preservation is endorsed by the Colorado Airport Operators Association, Colorado Aviation Historical Society and Colorado Pilots Association.                                                     

 The Colorado Airport History Preservation Project is made possible by a grant from Colorado Humanities, Denver, Colorado, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed on this web site do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities nor Colorado Humanities.  Learn more about Colorado Humanities at www.coloradohumanities.org .              

Join our History Team drpenny.hamilton@gmail.com