Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields:
Kansas: Wichita area
© 2002, © 2013 by Paul Freeman. Revised 12/6/13.
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Buckley Aircraft Airfield / Rawdon Field / Copeland Field / Beech North Airport (revised 2/29/12) - (Original) Salina Airport (revised 11/16/13)
Swallow Field / University Airport (revised 12/6/13)
Swallow Field / University Airport, Wichita, KS
37.73 North / 97.29 West (Northeast of Downtown Wichita, KS)
A 1928 aerial view looking northeast at the Swallow Airplane Factory,
showing 2 biplanes and several hangars on the east side of a grass field.
According to Richard Harris, the “Old Wichita Aircraft Company & Laird/Swallow Factory Airport at 25th Street North & Hillside
would become home to America's first commercial airplane factory.”
The date of establishment of Swallow Field has not been determined.
The E.M. Laird Aviation Company Ltd eventually became the Swallow Airplane Manufacturing Company,
and designed & built light aircraft from 1923-27.
The earliest depiction of Swallow Field which has been located was a 1928 aerial view looking northeast
showing 2 biplanes and several hangars of the Swallow Airplane Factory on the east side of a grass field.
Wichita Park Cemetery was visible directly across North Hillside Street to the east.
A 1928 photo of Charles Lindbergh in the cockpit of an unidentified Swallow biplane at Swallow Field.
With re-financing the doors of Swallow Aircraft opened again in 1933.
A total of 200 examples of the Swallow TP were manufactured, a remarkable quantity for that time in aviation history.
The earliest directory listing of Swallow Field which has been located
was in The Airport Directory Company's 1937 Airport Directory (courtesy of Bob Rambo).
It described Swallow as a commercial field, encompassing 80 acres, with a 1,300' square sod field.
Buildings were said to be marked with “Swallow”.
A 1938 aerial photo depicted Swallow Field as a square grass field with a hangar on the southeast corner.
The 1943 USGS topo map did not depict Swallow Field,
but did depict the hangar at the southeast corner.
According to the 8/15/44 Wichita Eagle, “The University Airport, at 2501 North Hillside, formerly the Swallow Field, held a formal opening yesterday.
The airport is under the direction of Eddie Ottaway & Jack Thomas.
The University airport has 1,000 acres & now has 8 level runways, each of which is half a mile or more long.”
A 10/10/43 aerial view looking north at University Airport from the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock)
depicted University as a square grass field with several hangars on the southeast side.
The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock) described University Airport
as a 35 acre irregularly-shaped property having 4 sod runways, with the longest being the 2,696' east/west strip.
The field was said to have a single 150' x 121' brick hangar,
and to be owned & operated by private interests.
The last depiction of University Airport which has been located was a 1950 aerial photo.
It depicted the field as a square grass field with a hangar on the southeast corner,
and 5 single-engine aircraft visible on the field.
University Airport evidently closed (for reasons unknown) at some point between 1950-55,
as the 1955 USGS topo map instead depicted streets covering the airport site.
A comparison of aerial photos shows that this building on the southeast side of the airport property, depicted in a circa 2008 aerial view looking north,
is the same hangar depicted in the 1938 aerial photo.
A 7/14/10 aerial photo shows that the majority of the site of University Airport has been covered with housing,
but amazingly the hangar on the southeast side remains standing after more than 72 years.
A 2013 photo by Ian Beyer of the side of the University Airport hangar.
A closeup 2013 photo by Ian Beyer of the University Airport hangar.
A 2013 photo by Ian Beyer of the remains of a sign at the site of University Airport – possibly a former sign for the airport?
The site of University Airport is located southwest of the intersection of 25th Street & Hillside Street.
Buckley Aircraft Airfield / Rawdon Field / Copeland Field / Beech North Airport (K31), Wichita, KS
37.7 North / 97.21 West (East of Downtown Wichita, KS)
A circa 1929-31 photo of the Buckley Aircraft Company hangar.
Walter House reported, “The Rawdon Field main hangar was originally built by the Buckley Aircraft Company in 1929–1930.”
The Buckley Aircraft Company was formed by Roy Buckley in late 1929 at Wichita,
and it produced only 2 aircraft that were designed by well-known William Stout: the FC-1 of 1929 & the LC-4 of 1930.
The FC-1 was a 2-seat monoplane powered by a Kinner K-5.
It had an all-metal fuselage of chromoly welded tubing covered with a corrugated aluminum skin.
The 4-seat all-metal LC-4, powered by a 300 hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior radial engine,
was designed as an aerial taxi, and the Yellow Air Cab Company signed a contract for 200 aircraft.
The aircraft received its ATC (Approved Type Certificate) number 2-359 on June 13, 1931,
however, NC499W was the sole example produced, and was sold to Northrop.
The earliest photo which has been located of the Buckley Aircraft Company was a circa 1929-31 photo of a hangar.
A circa 1929-31 photo of the Buckley Aircraft Company “factory” & hangar in the background,
A circa 1929-31 photo of the interior of the Buckley Aircraft Company hangar.
The Buckley Company folded under the Depression in 1931.
This property was next the home of Rawdon Brothers & Rawdon-Burnham Company, an aircraft manufacturing firm.
Herb Rawdon had been the chief designer of Travel Air, and later Beech Aircraft in Wichita, Kansas.
He left Beech & in 1938 established the firm, with his brother Gene Rawdon, with their factory located near the Beech aircraft plant.
Dutch Rawdon was the company pilot.
The date of construction of Rawdon Airport is unknown.
A 1938 aerial photo depicted Rawdon Field as a rectangular grass area with a single hangar along the west side (the previous Buckley Aircraft hangar).
No aircraft were visible on the field.
The Rawdon R-1 aircraft was designed by Herb Rawdon in 1938 & a single example was built.
It was a single-engine twin-seat side-by-side open cockpit low-wing training monoplane powered by a 75 HP Lycoming engine.
It had a maximum speed of 110 MPH & a cruising speed of 105 MPH.
The R-1 was not accepted as a trainer by the U.S. Army Air Corps & it was modified as a crop spraying aircraft.
According to the Kansas Aviation Museum, the Rawdon Brothers Flying Service was organized in 1940
as a partnership for the purpose of running a flight school, operating a commercial airport, and performing related flying services.
According to Richard Harris, “Herb Rawdon was one of the city's preeminent aircraft engineers
(with partner Walter Burnham, he'd designed Travel Air's legendary Mystery Ship racer & Dole Race victor 'Woolaroc'),
and had been chief engineer at Beech, until apparently falling out of favor with its finicky grand dame, Olive Ann Beech.
He moved to his own operation across Central Avenue from Beech, and tinkered on various projects, for himself & other companies.”
The earliest aeronautical chart depiction of Rawdon Field which has been located
was on the August 1941 Wichita Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
It depicted Rawdon as a commercial airport.
The earliest photo which has been located of Rawdon Airport
was a 10/10/43 aerial view looking north from the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock).
The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock) described Rawdon Airport
as a 110 acre L-shaped property having 2 sod & sand 2,200' runways, oriented north/south & east/west.
The field was said to have a single 120' x 65' brick & stone hangar,
and to be owned & operated by private interests.
Rawdon Airport was not depicted at all on the 1945 USGS topo map.
The 1945 Wichita Sectional Chart (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)
depicted Rawdon as a commercial airport.
According to the Kansas Aviation Museum, Rawdon Brothers Aircraft Inc.
was incorporated while in facilities on Rawdon Field on July 1, 1947,
with the partners of Rawdon Brothers Flying Service serving as principal stockholders.
The Corporation continued with the flying school & airport activities.
It also established a small factory for the production of aircraft parts & assemblies.
The Rawdon T-1 aircraft was developed from the original Rawdon R-1.
The aircraft secured CAA approval in September 1947, but was not immediately placed into production.
It was a tandem-seat closed cockpit low-wing monoplane, powered by Lycoming engines of between 125-150 HP.
The T-1 was built in 5 versions & was used for training, crop spraying, aerial advertising and other utility roles.
Bob Heath reported, "I own a J-3C-65 Cub that was once owned by the Rawdon Brothers
and operated out of Rawdon Field in January-November 1948."
In 1948 the company started the manufacturing of aircraft parts,
then in 1949 began producing parts for crop spraying equipment for installation on war surplus Stearman airplanes.
When the Korean Conflict began, the federal government was again interested in purchasing aircraft.
Rawdon was extensively involved in producing aircraft sub-assemblies,
including wing panel assemblies, tail surface assemblies, pilot seats,
cabin doors, windshields, and other furnishings for the Cessna L-19 Bird Dog.
The company produced a number of conversions for the PT-17, BT-13, BT-15,
and even the Beech Model 35 Bonanza which were authorized under the Type Certificate of the airframe manufacturer.
The Company also worked as a sub-contractor for Continental Can as a primary contractor for the Air Force.
During this time Rawdon accumulated valuable experience in production techniques.
The design for the Company airplane was continuously revised,
awaiting the time when conditions were appropriate to introduce it to the market.
A few airplanes were produced & sold to friends of the company.
Crop spraying equipment was designed and added to the airplanes.
A metal wing was designed to replace the fabric covered wing.
Engines of 135, 150, and 180 HP were also certified.
The airplane was sold as a general trainer, aerobatic trainer, and crop duster.
Some airplanes were sold to foreign countries for use as trainers for military pilots.
The 1949 KS Airport Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)
depicted Rawdon as having 3 sod runways, with the longest being the 2,550' northwest/southeast strip.
Four buildings (hangars?) were situated on the southwest corner of the field.
The airport was said to offer repairs & fuel, and the manager was listed as Gene Rawdon.
A 1950 aerial photo showed Rawdon Field to consist of a rectangular grass area,
with 25 light aircraft clustered around a hangar on the west side.
The 1956 USGS topo map depicted “Rawdon Landing Area” as having 2 unpaved runways with 2 buildings along the southwest side.
Jim Wickham recalled, “My father personally knew the Rawdons as he worked at Boeing Stearman from about 1938-50.
Rawdon Field did not have a paved field the summer 1959, the last time that my dad landed there in the Bluebird.
Also at that time there a couple of the Rawdon tandem 2-seat low wings were in their hangar.”
A total of 35 examples of the Rawdon T-1 completed before the production line was closed in the 1960s.
According to Richard Harris, “Rip Gooch, who developed & owned the Fixed Base Operation (aircraft dealership, repair shop, and flight school) at Rawdon -
Aero Services, Inc. - for several years during the 1950s & 1960s, was a pioneer black aviator,
becoming one of the first African-Americans to own a successful FBO.
He rented the south Quonset-hut building (built in WWII).
With his airport just across the street from mighty Beech Aircraft Company,
he had the audacity to open one of the first (and most successful) Mooney Aircraft regional distributorships (not just a dealership) -
which remained, even after the field was bought by a dentist named Copeland.”
Dean Hartschen recalled, “I learned to fly from Rawdon Field & worked at Aero Services Incorporated, which was the FBO on the field, from 1967-73.
While I was there I talked to people like Herb Rawdon, and Glen Stearman & several other people that later started business in the aviation field.
Some of the people at Aero Services Incorporated are the ones which got the Wichita police department to use a helicopter.
Another person at Aero Services Incorporated later moved on to start the Life Watch program in Wichita.
The runway was paved before I started to work there in 1967 & there were 2 crosswind grass runways
with several T-hangars along the west property boundary along the railroad track.
According to Richard Harris, “For a while in the 1960s, Rawdon's only workman was Kenny Isely
who (with Rawdon) did aviation product-development craftsmanship for Homer Jones' development company.
Rawdon died in the late 1960s / early 1970s.
Isley rented a vacant corner on the airfield's west side to build an ice rink around 1970.
Mr. Isely reports that a number of homebuilders/tinkerers were based on Rawdon Airport,
and occupied about 6-7 hangars along the west side, towards the north end of the field.
The Rawdon family apparently kept the field until about 1973.”
The runway at Rawdon was evidently paved at some point between 1959-71,
as the 1971 Wichita Sectional Chart (courtesy of Vince Granato)
described the field as having a single 2,500' paved runway.
The Rawdon company reportedly continued in operation until 1978, when it became Spinks-Rawdon in Fort Worth, Texas.
At some point between 1971-82, the field was renamed Copeland Airport,
as that is how it was listed in the 1982 AOPA Airport Directory (courtesy of Ed Drury).
It was described as having a single 2,550' asphalt Runway 17/35,
and listed the operators as Copeland Aviation Inc. & Flight Specialists Inc.
Dean Hartschen recalled, “When Copland had the facility they added a hangar to the north of the existing hangars
and then when Beech/Raytheon purchased the property another hangar was added on the north side of the Copland hangar.
The Beech Control tower was moved to the west of those hangars when the new runway went in & Rawdon Field disappeared.”
According to Richard Harris, “In the 1980s, Copeland (or subsequent owners) sold out to Beech Aircraft (by then renamed 'Raytheon Aircraft Division')
who wanted the field to expand their runway (important, since Raytheon had acquired the Hawker business line,
which often required more runway than Beech Field had).”
In addition to the single runway, the 1982 USGS topo map depicted a taxiway,
a small ramp area & a set of small hangars at the south end of the runway.
At some point between 1982-85, the airfield was renamed “Beech North Airport”, after having been purchased by Beechcraft,
as that is how it was depicted on the June 1985 Wichita Sectional Chart (courtesy of David Brooks).
It depicted Beech North Airport as having a single 2,500' paved runway.
The 1986 AOPA Airports USA Directory (courtesy of David Brooks)
described Beech North Airport as having a single 2,550' asphalt Runway 17/35.
The 1994 KS Airport Directory (courtesy of David Brooks)
depicted Beech North Airport as having a single 2,539' asphalt Runway 17/35,
along with a ramp at the southwest end with several hangars.
The diagram also depicted the proximity of the Beech Factory & its runway, just across Central Avenue to the southwest.
The field was described as consisting of a total of 62 acres,
and the remarks said, “Fuel & assistance available at Beech Factory Airport.”
Beech North Airport was apparently closed at some point between 1994-96,
as the 1996 USGS aerial picture showed that portions of the runway had been covered by construction,
making way for an expansion of the runway of the Beech Factory Airfield, which sits adjacent to the south.
The majority of the length of the former runway was still visible, marked with closed-runway "X" symbols,
although the center portion of the runway had been bisected by construction.
Several hangars were visible at the southwest corner of the former airfield,
having been added at some point between 1950-96.
A 2000 aerial photo showed that the former airport was covered by a new runway of Raytheon (Beech) Airfield,
which extended across Central Avenue.
It also showed 3 Raytheon Starships sitting on the ramp to the east of the Rawdon hangar.
The Starships had been repurchased by Raytheon after the Starship program was canceled,
with the intent of destroying them to eliminate liability.
John Davis reported in 2005, “This airfield is now totally incorporated in the Raytheon (Beech) Airfield;
which is why it does not appear - even on sectionals.
One, or two, of the buildings still stand - in use by Raytheon.”
A circa 2006 aerial view looking west at hangars from the former Beech North Airport,
now reused as part of the new Raytheon Airport.
Dean Hartschen reported in 2006, “The original Rawdon hangar is still in use by Raytheon Aircraft.
There are still two of the original Aero Service hangar standing and in use also.”
A 2008 aerial view showed the former Rawdon hangar still remained standing.
Richard Harris reported in 2009, “Today, only a few of the original buildings remain,
along with many newer hangars built by Raytheon Corporation,
before selling out their Aircraft Division to Onex Corporation (who renamed it 'Hawker-Beechcraft Corporation').”
(Original) Salina Airport, Salina, KS
38.82 North / 97.57 West (Northwest of Wichita, KS)
The Salina Airport, as depicted on the 1933 Salina Sectional Chart (courtesy of Scott O'Donnell).
The municipal airport for the town of Salina was originally located east of the city.
The Salina Airport was opened on July 24, 1929,
as indicated on a trophy presented to George Halsey (according to Thomas Mackel, his great-grandson).
The earliest depiction which has been located of the Salina Airport
was on the 1933 Salina Sectional Chart (courtesy of Scott O'Donnell).
Airline service was provided at Salina Airport by Continental Airlines & Central Airlines.
The earliest photo which has been located of the Salina Municipal Airport
was an undated aerial view in The Airport Directory Company's 1938 Airport Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy).
It described the Salina Municipal Airport as having a total of 4 sod & clay runways,
with the longest being a 2,600' northwest/southeast strip.
A 10/8/43 aerial view looking north from the 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock)
depicted Salina Municipal Airport as having 3 unpaved runways.
The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory (courtesy of Scott Murdock) described Salina Municipal Airport
as a 160 acre square property having 4 sod runways, the longest being the 2,590' north/south & east/west strips.
The field was said to have 3 wooden hangars, the largest being a 100' x 50' structure.
Salina Municipal Airport was described as being owned by the City of Salina, and operated by private interests.
The 1949 KS Airport Directory (courtesy of Chris Kennedy)
depicted Salina Municipal Airport as having a single 4,800' concrete north/south runway,
along with 2 shorter sod runways along the northwestern corner of the field.
A paved taxiway along the western side of the concrete runway
led to 5 buildings (hangars?) on the northern edge of the field.
The airport was said to offer repairs & fuel, and the manager was listed as C. I. Aspergen.
The last photo which is available showing the Salina Municipal Airport still in operation was a 7/27/54 USGS aerial view.
Several light aircraft were visible on the ramp.
The 1955 USGS topo mapdepicted Salina Airport as having a paved north/south runway,
with a ramp leading to several small buildings & a beacon on the northwestern corner of the field.
A 1957 aerial view depicted the long concrete north/south runway,
along with several hangars & light aircraft on the north side of the field.
A set of 3 T-hangars was located on the northwest side of the field, arranged southwest/northeast.
A 1958 aerial view showed that the ramp on the north side had been expanded at some point within the preceding year,
along with a few more hangars.
A DC-3 was visible on the ramp.
When the much-larger former Schilling AFB (located southwest of the city) closed in 1965-66,
civil operations moved to the larger field, and the original airport was closed.
A 1966 aerial view showed that closed-runway “X” markings had been painted along the runway,
but the airfield otherwise remained intact.
Mike Hamblin lived in Salina from 1967-68.
He recalled, “The original Salina Airport... in the late 1960s
was used as an auxiliary helicopter base by the U.S. Army out of Ft. Riley (the 1st Air Cavalry).
I remember my cousin telling me about it during an airshow at Schilling & later I went there to see for myself.
I observed about 7-8 UH-1s parked on the ramp.”
The original Salina Airport was depicted as an abandoned airfield
on the 1971 Wichita Sectional Chart (courtesy of Vince Granato).
A 1973 aerial photo showed that the 3 T-hangars on the northwest side had been removed at some point between 1966-73,
but the runway & hangars otherwise appeared to remain intact.
As it existed in the 1991 USGS aerial photo, the airfield consisted of a single 6,300' concrete runway,
a parallel taxiway and a ramp area.
The area of the former grass runways to the west had been converted into a golf course,
and several baseball diamonds had been built along the paved runway.
Senior Airport Planner Brad Weisenburger recalled,
"I went to college in Salina & worked at the golf course that is next to the ball fields.
The parallel taxiway is now Markley Road,
it connects Crawford Street on the north to Magnolia Street on the south.
The former commercial passenger terminal building is the golf course clubhouse.
One former hangar remains; it is used for equipment for the golf course.
The former apron area is parking for the golf course."
A 2006 photo by Jon Karkow, looking northwest at the former hangars which remain at the site of the original Salina Airport.
A 2006 photo by Jon Karkow, looking northwest at the former terminal building at the site of the original Salina Airport.
A 2006 photo by Jon Karkow, looking south from the north end of the former runway at the site of the original Salina Airport.
A June 15, 2006 aerial view looking southeast at the remains of the original Salina Airport.
Thanks to John Vickers for contributing information about this field.
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