Felts Field (1924-1945) - A municipal flying field first known as Parkwater Airstrip established in 1924 near Spokane, Spokane County, Washington. Parkwater Field then became the Home of the Washington Air National Guard in 1924 and in September 1927 was named Felts Field after James Buell Felts, a Washington Air National Guard pilot who was killed in a crash. Abandoned by the military after the end of WWII but continued civilian operation as a municipal airport. 1924-1927
In 1924, Spokane became the headquarters of the state’s Air National Guard/116th Observation Squadron. The Guard designated its portion of Parkwater Field as Camp Earl Hoisington.
Major John T. Fancher, a World War I veteran,was the first commander. By early 1925, construction of the new hangars began with the squadron members providing most of the labor.
The 116th received three Curtiss JN-6-A2 "Jenny" aircraft at the rail yards still in the crates, but no funds were provided to transport or assemble the planes for use. Enlisted men managed to haul, assemble and fire up these planes with oil donated by local businesses and gasoline bought by the commander.
Parkwater Aviation Field, approximately 40 acres near the Up-River Waterworks was leased from the City of Spokane without rental for a period of three years on the 15 Nov 1924. Another lease for this same property, but including an additional area for a target range, was executed by the City of Spokane to cover a new three-year period on October 15 Oct 1926.
This field was improved by the erection of two steel hangars each one66 ft by 120 feet; the construction of quarters and offices for the 116th Observation Squadron and the installation of the necessary sewerage, water, and light systems.
On 8 Aug 1926, the unit was re-designated as the 116th Observation Squadron and expanded to include a photo section, medical detachment, and transportation section. The 116th was the first National Guard unit in the USA to achieve full flight qualifications for every officer in the unit.
In the late 1930s the unit was tasked by the federal government to do an aerial survey of the Columbia River. These photos provided valuable information to geologists and engineers for the site selection and construction of the Grand Coulee Dam.
World War II Activities
On 16 Sep 1940, the 116th Observation Squadron was inducted into Federal Service at Felts Field as a part of the 41st Infantry Division. Like other federalized guard units the 116th was deployed during the war and absorbed into the war effort.
Beginning early in World War II, Felts Field was used as a training site for the Civilian Pilot Training Program while continuing to serve as the municipal airport.
In January 1944 a WAC detachment and photo charting units left Felts Field for Lowry Field, Colorado, Felts Field was completely evacuated of Army personnel and Lt. Col. Stanley M. Persons, commanding officer of Geiger Field, became the commander of the now-inactive Felts Field. Military activity shifted from Felts Field to the new Geiger Field.
Felts Field is now an active public Civil Airport owned by Spokane City County.