Airport History


Airport History/Background  

The airport at Pine Bluff was first established in 1940 during World War II. In July of 1940 the city issued bonds for purchase of property for the airport. The City then leased the property to the United States government for the establishment of the Pine Bluff School of Aviation, an army pilot training school, in October of the same year.

World War II brought profound changes to Pine Bluff and its agriculture, timber, and railroad-oriented economy. The first took the form of a new airport. Grider Field housed the Pine Bluff School of Aviation to furnish flight training for air cadets for the Army Air Corps. Approximately 10,000 flyers were trained by the time the school closed in October 1944. The Pine Bluff Arsenal and Grider Field literally changed Pine Bluff from an agricultural economy to a diversified base with a mixture of industry and agriculture.

After the war, the airport property was transferred back to the city in 1947 by the War Assets Administrator of the Civil Aeronautics Administration under the Surplus Property Act. The City of Pine Bluff maintained the airport until 1957 when the Pine Bluff Aviation Commission was es­tablished to manage and maintain the airport as a general aviation airport for Pine Bluff , Jeffer­son County , and Southeast Arkansas .

Today’s Grider Field is a 850+ acre facility consisting of a large terminal and restaurant, an FAA weather monitoring station, private corporate hangars, fixed-base operators offering fuel and avi­onics services, a fire station, an aviation museum, and private rental hangars. Grider Field serves as the only ILS-equipped, jet capable airport in southeast Arkansas. Grider Field provides a bad-weather alternative for pilots going to Warren, Fordyce, Star City, and Monticello. The airport is managed by a full-time, on-site air-port manager and a 7-member commission who serve as volunteers for 5 years.

Pine Bluff Regional Airport is located just south of Pine Buff on US Highway 65 near US Highway 425 and serves as a general aviation facility. Corporate users include Tyson Foods, Jefferson Regional Medical Center, International Paper, the Pine Bluff Arsenal, the Arkansas Department of Corrections, and Union Pacific Railroad. The airport is a department of the City of Pine Bluff, and airport funding is derived from fuel sales, user leases, and City general appropriations.