History

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Take a Photo Tour of the History of LIT 

It started small in 1917. Little Rock's first airport was formally known as the Little Rock Intermediate Air Depot, operated by the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

In 1926, the Federal Government acquired property to provide support and landing facilities for the 154th Observation Squadron of the Arkansas National Guard which was to be based at the site. Later that year, the National Balloon and Air Meet drew more than 70,000 spectators to the field.

Just two years later, the first of many aircraft manufacturers would set up for business adjacent to the airfield site. The aircraft manufacture/modification industry has a major presence at the airport today.

The airfield was purchased by the citizens of Little Rock in 1930 and commercial air service was launched in June 1931 by American Airways, now American Airlines, which is still serving Little Rock National more than 70 years later.

Through the years -- and up until the present day -- improvements have been made on a continuous basis to both the airfield and terminal facilities.

The airport is officially known as Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field. The Adams is Captain George Geyer Adams, 154th Observation Squadron, Arkansas National Guard, who was killed in the line of duty on September 4, 1937.

During his long tenure with the Little Rock City Council, Captain Adams was instrumental in promoting the growth of the airport.

Between the two World Wars, the airport grew from 40 acres to 640 acres, from one sod runway to three hard surfaced runways and was rapidly becoming a key center for commercial and military air service. The airport now encompasses about 2,200 acres.

Throughout World War II, the War Department assumed control of the airport. Shortly after the war ended, the City of Little Rock regained responsibility for the facility, and daily commercial air service was re-established.

Major runway improvements occurred in 1953 and a year later the first Instrument Landing System (ILS) was installed.

Jets came to Little Rock in the 1960s, a new terminal opened in 1972, and a second commercial service runway was opened in 1991.

During the 1990s, more than $170 million in capital improvements were made at Little Rock National to ensure that the facility can continue to well serve its customers into the new century.

The history of Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport is one of an ever-changing facility with a never changing goal: to serve the traveling public in the best way possible.

To see the Commission approved 2020 Vision Plan for Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport, click here.

Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport
One Airport Drive • Little Rock, AR 72202-4402
Phone: (501) 372-3439 • Fax: (501) 372-0612