Little Rock's first airport opened in 1917 and was formally known as the Little Rock Intermediate Air Depot, operated by the U.S. Army Signal Corps.
In 1926, the Federal Government acquired property to provide support and landing facilities for the 154th Observation Squadron of the Arkansas National Guard at the site.
In 1928, the first of many aircraft manufacturers were established adjacent to the airfield. The aircraft manufacture/modification industry has a major presence at the airport today.
In 1930, the citizens of Little Rock purchased the airfield and by 1931, commercial air service by American Airways (now American Airlines) had begun.
The airport is officially known as Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport/Adams Field. The “Adams” name comes from Captain George Geyer Adams of the 154th Observation Squadron, Arkansas National Guard, who was killed in the line of duty on September 4, 1937. During his long tenure with the Little Rock City Council, Captain Adams was instrumental in promoting the growth of the airport.
Between the two World Wars, the airport grew from 40 acres to 640 acres, from one sod runway to three hard surfaced runways and rapidly became a key center for commercial and military air service.
Throughout World War II, the War Department assumed control of the airport. The City of Little Rock regained responsibility shortly after the war and re-established daily commercial air service.
In 1953, the airport received major runway improvements occurred and the first Instrument Landing System (ILS) was installed soon after.
Jets came to Little Rock in the 1960s, a new terminal opened in 1972, and a second commercial service runway was opened in 1991.
Throughout the 1990s, more than $170 million in capital improvements were made at Little Rock National to ensure that the facility would continue to serve its customers in the new century.
The airport was renamed Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in 2012, and in 2014 the airport announced a concourse renovation as part of the 2020 Vision Plan.
While we’re always looking forward, we know it’s important to remember how we got here. Check out these fun vintage details from our early days!
1927 - Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis at Little Rock Airport
1932 - Actor Eric Linden and Will Rogers both visited Little Rock Airport
Late 1930s - A Ryan Auto Gyro pays a visit to the airport
1940 - While Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan (in leather jacket) was made famous when he took off for the west coast of the U.S. and wound up in Ireland, he did manage to find his way to Little Rock with no problem.
1960 - The Lockheed Electra began flying into Little Rock
1978 - Delta introduced the DC-8 jets to Little Rock
1990 - The Little Rocket #2 was built from the same plans as the 1930 Little Rocket, manufactured at the Command-Aire Aircraft Corporation in Little Rock