THE HISTORY OF CAPITAL CITY AIRPORT
1953 - Present
With the creation of the first Aeronautics Commission in July 1940, efforts to establish an airport for the state capital had been ongoing. The original commission, which was appointed at that time, realized the necessity of an airport to serve the area. Mr. Charles H. Gartrell was a member of the original Commission and was appointed in 1948 as the first Commissioner of the Department of Aeronautics. Except for the years he was on active duty during World War II, he constantly worked to build an airport in Frankfort.
It wasn’t until after the war, when state and federal funding became available, that work would begin on the airport. The first contract with an aviation consulting engineer company to do site selection work was given on January 4, 1952. The present site was decided upon after the report from the engineering company was received. Negotiations were started to acquire the land on April 10, 1952, and construction of the first phase was actually begun on September 8, 1952. The final paving contract for the 2800 feet by 80 feet runway was completed on November 2, 1953, and the airport was open to light aircraft.
In 1954, a hanger was constructed, and a new access road was built from US 60.
Since the airport was built, the Department of Aeronautics had the long-range goal to enlarge the airport and possibly have it used by an airline. At that time, Piedmont Airlines was operating daily between Louisville and Lexington and had shown interest in Frankfort.
In early 1955, contracts were given for more major improvements to the airport. Improvements included the extension of the western end of the runway by 1200 feet, making it 4000 feet long. The runway was to be widened from 80 feet to 100 feet. Also planned were taxiways to both ends of the main runway, with warm-up aprons at the end of the taxiways. A new runway lighting system was installed, with a 50-foot beacon tower and a lighted wind direction indicator.
Dedication of Frankfort’s new and enlarged Capital City Airport took place on June 25, 1955. The ceremony was co-sponsored by the Frankfort Chamber of Commerce and the state Department of Aeronautics. The events of the day were a parade in downtown Frankfort, a dedication ceremony at the airport, and an air show. Mr. Charles Gartell was the master of ceremonies, with Governor Lawrence Wetherby giving the dedication address. The parade was under the control of Col Harold Travis, National Guard commander. Units from the National Guard, Fort Knox, Civil Air Patrol, and civic organizations participated. Miss Betty Jane Carter, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Carter was chosen as “Miss Capital City Airport” with attendants, Miss Connie Smith, Lawrenceburg, and Miss Sylvia Rizenbergs, Frankfort.
Airport facilities include one full-service fixed-based operator (FBO) and an aircraft maintenance shop to serve the needs of corporate and light general aviation customers. Along with a 5,500-foot single runway, the Capital City Airport has 41 aircraft T-hangars, two large hangars for public use, three large hangars for state use, one large hangar for private use, and approximately 17 tie-down spots.