Eppley Airfield

A history of Omaha’s Eppley Airfield from 1925 to present. It has also been called the American Legion Municipal Airport and the Omaha Municipal Airport.

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Eppley Airfield, North Omaha, Nebraska

In 1925, the City of Omaha acquired 200 acres east of Carter Lake for use as an addition to the Levi Carter Park. Mostly clear of trees and level, air planes started using the field there almost immediately.

Eppley Airfield, North Omaha, Nebraska
“Plane view of Municipal Landing Field” comes from a 1925 edition of the Omaha World-Herald.

Illegal Land Use?

In 1927 a lawsuit tried to prevent the land from usage as an airport. However, the judge ruled against that restriction, and the City declared the area as the new Municipal Airport and hangars were immediately built. An American Legion gathering in Omaha immediately drew crowds and it was referred to as the American Legion Airfield for a short time. The airport boomed into 1929.

In 1931, a stunt pilot called Speed Holman crashed at the Omaha Airport and died. In 1934, the City of Omaha built a terminal at the American Legion Municipal Airport.

Eppley Airfield, North Omaha, Nebraska
In 1934, the City of Omaha opened a terminal at the American Legion Municipal Airport, later renamed Eppley Airfield.

A Rich Pilot Booms the Airport

As airline service grew after World War II, Omaha began receiving more flights. In 1957, there were more than 40 daily flights from the airport.

As a young man, Eugene Eppley was a daredevil aeroplane flyer in Ohio, where he started his hotel empire.In 1960, Omaha’s American Legion Municipal Airport was renamed Eppley Airfield in honor of a $1,000,000 donation by the Eppley Foundation. Because of his donation, in 1961 a new terminal was opened at the airport and the runway length at the airport was expanded to accomodate jet airplanes.

This same expansion led to the downfall of a neighboring town.

Killing East Omaha

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The death of stunt pilot Speed Holman came at the American Legion Municipal Airport in May 1931.

From the 1960s through the 1980s, Eppley Airfield worked to acquire land, including homes, a school and other properties, south between the airport and the Missouri River. This area was the original Town of East Omaha, and is almost entirely devoid of any signs there was ever a town there. The airport essentially killed East Omaha.

Today, the address of Eppley Airfield is 4501 Abbott Drive. Over the last decade, a number of improvements have been added to the airport and the area leading to it, especially Abbott Drive and the “north downtown” community where the Union Pacific Shops and Arsarco used to be.

In 2015, Omaha was the 60th most busy airport in the United States. There were approximately 75 daily flights throughout the year serving almost 4.2 million customers. There is also a brisk cargo service, and the airport is currently expanding.

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Bonus Pics!

 

Postcards of the “New Municipal Airport, Omaha, Nebr.”

 

Eppley Airfield, North Omaha, Nebraska
The American Legion hangar at the Omaha Municipal Airfield in 1927. This became Eppley Airfield in 1960.

Author: Adam Fletcher

I'm a writer and speaker who teaches people about engaging people. I specialize in youth engagement in communities, at home and through education. Learn more at adamfletcher.net

2 thoughts on “Eppley Airfield”

  1. Most interesting. Good work. I have great memories of Carter Lake and Omaha Municipal Airport. In the 40”s, my mother used to walk me to Carter Lake for fishing some three miles from home at 34th & Hartman. My uncle had one of the few motorboats on the lake. In the 40’s I took free Red Cross swimming lessons at the beach (the bath houses are still there). And during WWII I swept out the American Legion hangar (then operated by Sky Harbor) for one dollar and a ride in a J-3 cub. I also earned a pilot’s license at Omaha Municipal in 1957.

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