Pensacola Airport History

Pensacola’s first true municipal airport was established at this site in 1933 when city officials leased 500 acres from Francis W. Taylor, an early aviation visionary, and used funds from the Civil Work Administration to pay relief workers to prepare the property.

In 1935, the Works Projects Administration assumed responsibility for the project; but, since regulations prohibited spending public funds on private property, the city purchased the land from Taylor and the construction of the airport’s first terminal and three paved runways soon began.

In 1936, C.H. (Harry) Blanchard was appointed airport manager where he served until 1962 with the exception of his overseas service during World War II when his wife, Van Blanchard, served as acting airport manager.

In 1937, Atlantic and Gulf Coast Airlines inaugurated Pensacola’s first scheduled passenger service that flew eight-passenger trimotored Stinsons.

In 1938, National Airlines inaugurated Pensacola’s first scheduled airmail service that flew ten-passenger twin-engine Lockheed Electras.

During World War II the US Navy controlled the airport and built a fourth runway. In 1952, the airport was officially named Hagler Field in honor of Conner L. Hagler, a former city mayor.

In 1965, the commercial jet age swept into the Pensacola airport with the touchdown of an Eastern Air Lines Boeing 727. In 1972, the airport was renamed Pensacola International Airport to reflect the large surrounding area served by the airport.

No airport is ever finished; and, to this day, Pensacola International Airport continues to be reshaped as it adapts to new markets, new aircraft, and new technologies.