LAST TIME ON THE BLOG, we introduced some interesting facts about Winter Haven Regional Airport, where Team Tucker Paving had the grand opportunity earlier this year to improve the runway taxiways. We got through 10 of the facts last time and, with so many to share, decided to carry over the balance to a second article. So, with that as an introduction, here’s more about our ever-expanding and improving local airport.
• The airport has an official activation date of April 1940, but Gilbert Field had been in use as an airfield since the mid-1920s. A group of farmers originally donated the land for use as an airbase.
• During World War II, Gilbert Field was an auxiliary airfield for the Lakeland (later Lodwick) School of Aeronautics at the Lakeland Lodwick Field airport. The school provided basic pilot training to U.S. Army Air Forces and British Royal Air Force flying cadets from the airfield under contract. Flight training was performed until the end of the war.
• The current airport terminal along U.S. 92 opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in November 2008. The cost of the 13,000-square-foot structure was $8 million. It replaced a 4,500-square-foot brick building that had been constructed as an airport office-terminal in the early 1940s. The original terminal was on the opposite side of the airport (facing 21st Street, N.W.) from the new one — a quarter mile away. Vehicle access to the new terminal is from U.S. 92 West.
• Nearby, on an adjacent lake and connected by a runway, is the privately owned Brown’s Seaplane Base (FAA identifier F57).
• The airport is home to a National Weather Service automated weather data-collection station. You can find it here.
• The airport manager is Alex Vacha (phone number 863-298-4551).
• The airport sells aviation fuels and rents a variety of hangars, including executive hangars, corporate hangars, and T-hangars (125).
• While the airport is owned and operated city of Winter Haven, a five-member Airport Advisory Committee acts in an advisory capacity for the city manager and City Commission.
If you’re interested in the grand vision for Winter Haven Regional Airport, you can find the current airport master plan here.
Sources for this article
• The city’s Winter Haven Regional Airport website — Link
• Wikipedia — Link
• AirNav.com — Link
• National Weather Service — Link
• Winter Haven Economic Development Council — Link
• The Ledger newspaper article (Nov. 13, 2008) — Link
• The Ledger newspaper article (June 21, 2017) — Link