Kingman Airport, Kingman Arizona
By Brian Schober
The US Army Air Forces played a major role in developing many of Arizona’s current and long-gone airports. Kingman’s airport is no exception. The US Army Air Forces had a need to train gunnery crews assigned to the newly-developed B-17 Flying Fortresses and an unpopulated 4,000+ acres in Northwestern Arizona fit the bill perfectly. The government moved and began construction in early 1942. The gunnery ranges opened later in 1942 with multiple airstrips and emergency landing fields built to support them. The airfield was renamed Kingman Army Air Field on May 7, 1943. In all, over 36,000 gunners were trained at Kingman Army Air Field through 1945.
Following the end of World War II, Kingman shifted from gunnery training to aircraft reclamation and storage. Known as Storage Depot 41, aircraft were flown to Kingman for dismantling and recycling. Rather than storing the planes, as the name would suggest, over 5500 aircraft were dismantled and melted down for scrap over the next three years. Sadly, most of these aircraft were B-17s. Once the recycling effort was completed, the land was turned over to the county.
Though the war and the related warplane “storage” efforts are long over and nearly forgotten, the airport continues to thrive. Coincidentally, storage is precisely what drives commerce at the airport today. Airliners, commuters, and corporate aircraft are mothballed and stored at Kingman. Dozens of aircraft sit waiting to become donors to other flying aircraft or to be resurrected in new livery at another airline. The on-site repair station manages the storage and maintenance of these aircraft. In addition to aircraft services, an 1,100-acre industrial park helps support the airport and hosts over 70 businesses. This industrial park is second largest in Arizona, led only by Maricopa County. Close access to Interstate freeways and rail lines, the location is perfect for fast distribution of goods.
Kingman Airport (KIGM) is located approximately 8 miles northeast of the city center. Though untowered, with a pair of long runways capable of 737-class aircraft, there is plenty of room for nearly any aircraft. Runway 3/21 is 6,827’ x 150’ and Runway 17/35 is 6,725’ x 75’, with Runway 21 being the preferred calm-wind runway. Field elevation is a modest 3449’msl. Air’Zona Aircraft Services operates the FBO on the field. There are minimal $5/single and $10/twin tie-down fees if needing to stay the night. At the time of this writing, Avgas is priced at $5.51 for self-serve and $5.76 for full-serve. Jet A is priced at $3.83 and $4.08, respectively.
The Kingman Airport Café offers traditional breakfast and lunch fare in an aviation-themed restaurant. Open from 7am – 2pm, breakfast is served until closing time at 2pm, so a delayed start to the morning flight will not result in missed pancakes. Indoor booths and tables are available, as well as patio dining during the summer. The Café even has t-shirts, caps, and mugs available for purchase.
Once in Kingman and breakfast is finished, take time to enjoy the remarkable history this airport has to offer. The original control tower remains an icon, as the multiple flights of stairs leading to the windowed room are visible. The Kingman Army Airfield Historical Society has created a museum to document, highlight and preserve the importance this field played in our nation’s history. The museum is housed in an original hangar built in 1942.
The airport is located just off of historic Route 66. Uber or Lyft provide transportation, as do several taxi companies. This airport is not Kingman’s only brush with aviation history. Prior to the military field opening, Charles Lindbergh created an airstrip out of what had been a cow pasture as part of the first trans-continental airmail route. The strip was updated by Transcontinental Air Transport, the predecessor to TWA, and became Wallapai (Hualapai) Field. This airfield has since been built over; however, Kingman is rich in history and the multiple parks and memorials in town stand as a testament to this desert outpost.
Kingman is approximately 130nm Northwest of Phoenix, 240nm Northwest of Tucson, and 100nm West of Flagstaff. Nestled in a valley, the backdrop of the Hualapai range just to the South, the Cerrat Mountains to the West, and the Cottonwood Cliffs to the East all make for a scenic approach. These features also lead to downdrafts and wind conditions unique to flying in mountains, so focusing on weather conditions is highly recommended. The Bagdad 1 and Gladden 1 MOAs lie just to the South of Kingman, so use caution when navigating near or through them. We hope to see you there soon!