In 1927, Mr. and Mrs. Wiley R. Reynolds donated approximately 160 acres of property for an "aviation field" to the City of Jackson with runway construction being completed in 1928. In his presentation speech on June 3, 1928, Mr. Reynolds was quoted as saying, "Having been born and lived in Jackson my entire life, it is only natural that I should be interested in helping develop my home town. By deeding this property to the City of Jackson last December for an aviation field demonstrated my desire for Jackson to have one of the finest aviation fields in the state of Michigan."
Key Events in Jackson's Aviation History
07/27/1911 - The first airplane to be constructed and flown in Jackson was financed and flown by Fred Lewis of Pioneer Manufacturing. Fred commissioned Mr. Hatch and Mr. O'Brien to build a bi-wing airplane. Mr. Lewis flew this aircraft on July 27, 1911.
07/30/1924 - The first recorded airplane crash in Jackson County occurred when Oscar "Galloping" Gallup crashed in his airplane in Vandercook Lake. He received minor injuries.
06/03/1928 - W.R. Reynolds donated 160 acres to the City of Jackson for use as a municipal airport in 1927. The dedication ceremony was on June 3, 1928.
1928 - The City of Jackson constructed two runways: the north-south runway was 1800 feet long and 150 feet wide; the east-west runway was 2600 feet long and 150 feet wide. Both runways were made of dirt.
1934 - Construction of a new airport terminal building that housed the passenger terminal, airport manager's office, weather monitoring devices, and pilots' lounge. In its history, this building also served as a credit union, Consumers Energy Flight Department office, FAA offices, and today it is the Airport Administration Office. This was a civil works project.
1937 - Construction of a municipal hangar of approximately 10,000 square feet in size with 100 feet wide doors was completed. The original cost of the hangar was $25,000. By way of contrast, a recent project to replace the original doors cost approximately $90,000. This was also a civil works project.
1940 - According to the Jackson Citizen Patriot, the "First Jackson Girl" to solo under the local-Federal CAA pilot training course occurred in December 1940. The course was offered by the Jackson Junior College and the pilot was Aleta Grill.
1942 - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed new runways (current alignment) as part of the war effort. The main runway was 4100 feet long and the cross wind runway was 3500 feet long. These lacked the required safety areas at each end. A project in 2006 corrected these runway safety area deficiencies at an estimated cost of $33 million.
1948 - American Airlines started passenger service at Reynolds Municipal Field.
1950 - Approval by the City of Jackson and other governmental agencies to close Airport Road to permit a runway extension.
1960 - Construction of a four-story air traffic control tower and a one-story airport terminal building was initiated.
1961 - Air traffic control tower opens for business providing air traffic control services for the airport. The airport terminal building also opens for business.
1962 - Runway 5-23 is extended to 5344 feet.
Early 1970's - There is much community discussion about the financial problems of the airport and the City's desire to have the townships contribute financially. Also, the first armed guards are required by the FAA to meet incoming and outgoing passenger flights.
1974-1976 - The City and County jointly operate the airport.
1976 - The airport is transferred from the City of Jackson to the County of Jackson.
1979 - JCC purchases a building located at the airport and begins to offer flight instruction at the JCC Flight Center.
Passenger services to Jackson are halted. Simmons airlines were the last to offer services at JXN. Air traffic controllers strike nationwide and here at JXN.
FAA puts JXN on notice that the runway safety area (RSA) deficiencies must be corrected.
More Recent Years
2000 - County of Jackson begins banking money for the local match portion of correcting the RSA deficiencies according to FAA standards.
2002 - The Jackson County Airport begins the Environmental Assessment phases required prior to beginning construction to correct the RSA deficiencies.
2006 - Environmental Assessment for the RSA project is completed and submitted to the FAA for approval.
2007 - Construction on the first phase of the RSA project is scheduled to begin.
2008 - The Jackson County Airport was honored to host Colonel Harry T. Stewart Jr., a Tuskegee Airman, on May 27, 2008. Click here to view his biography. Please refer to our Media tab to hear the speech given by Colonel Harry T. Stewart, Jr.
2008 - Runway 14-32 is reconstructed with 300' of safety area at each runway end. This project was funded by Federal, State and Local funds.
2009 - Land and easement acquistion begins for the Runway 7-25 Safety Area Project. A total of 24 parcels and easements must be purchased to accomoodate the new runway.
2011 - A WWII bronze monument is donated by Bob Lazebnik of Jackson, MI. This statue is now located in Aviation Heritage Park near the front entrance of the airport. The over life sized monument is dedicated to WWII Army Air Corp pilots and is modeled after a small statue created in 1944 by Bob's brother, Jack Lazebnik a WWII Army Air Corp pilot himself.
Significant Aviation Businesses
Started in the Jackson Area
In 1941, Maule Aircraft started in Napoleon. In 1946, the Maule farm in Napoleon is converted to an airport. Maule Aircraft designed and built airplanes there until 1968 when it was moved to its current location in Moultrie, Georgia.
Zantop Aviation was a business based at the Jackson County Airport from 1946 - 1979 when it moved to Willow Run Airport. This company is currently an international airline company flying cargo all over the world.
Skyway Aviation was started in 1961 by Bob Jordan who built a substantial fleet of DC 3's flying passengers and cargo. This business remains in operation today offering fueling, corporate aviation services, and cargo services and is operated by his son, Ben Jordan.
Formed in 2005 to import, manufacture, and sell Italian "light sport" airplanes throughout North America. Prestige Aircraft was based at the Jackson County Airport - Reynolds Field until June 2008 and was run by its CEO, the late Dale Smith, of Jackson.
Note: This statement of the history of the Jackson County Airport - Reynolds Field is by no means a complete accounting of its history. If you, or anyone you know, have additional knowledge about milestones, including photographs, please contact the Airport Manager, Kent Maurer, to provide us with this information. Thank you!
This page originated on
October 16, 2012
and was last modified on
May 21, 2014