HISTORY OF INDEPENDENCE STATE AIRPORT (7S5)
April 8, 2005
The Independence Airport originally was developed from a request by the news media and eastern pilots to have a place to land aircraft and report on the arrival of the "On to Oregon Cavalcade" from Independence, Missouri to Independence, Oregon in 1959. The covered wagon train left Independence, Missouri on April 20, 1959 and arrived in Independence, Oregon on August 15, 1959. This covered wagon train reenactment was a part of the State of Oregon's Centennial Celebration of Statehood, established in 1859.
Under the leadership of John Pfaff, Chair for the arrival celebration committee and realtor Al Noble, Edwin Totten, a local farmer, allowed the aircraft to land on one of his grass seed fields which was later purchased by the City of Independence, with help from local donors and Polk County in early 1960s. This is the present site of 7S5.
The early users of the turf runway was primarily local pilots and agricultural applicators. The city decided developing, operating and managing the airport would be better served by donating the airport to the State of Oregon Aeronautics Division. After initial engineering and construction, the airport was dedicated as the Independence State Airport on August 14, 1964.
A two story fixed base operator's building (FBO) was added in the late 1960's. Midvalley Air Service was the first FBO under the management of Larry Moore, CFI.
In 1969, the first of 12 annual "Palms to Pines" women's air races terminated at the Independence State Airport. This event was enthusiastically supported by the community and was organized by John Koich, Independence, OR and Claire Walters, Santa Monica, CA. This women's air race was from Santa Monica, California to Independence Airport. Because of poor weather on the 13th race in 1983, the race was terminated in Klamath Falls, OR and has since ended each year at Bend, Oregon.
The turf runway was widened to 30 feet and resurfaced with oiled gravel in 1972. Help was provided by the Oregon Pines Chapter 99s to be sure the runway was finished in time for the women’s air race. Another facility upgrade was completed in 1975 when the runway was reconstructed and edge lighting was improved.
The Independence Airpark, Phases I, II and III, received an ingress and egress permit from Oregon Aeronautics Division and FAA on June 14, 1974. This agreement was made for a 30 year period. The permit was granted on completion of the agreement by the Airpark developers, James E. Preuit and Thomas W. Combest, to pave the main parallel taxiway of the airport in lieu of annual permit fees. The access permit for the original airpark Phase I, II, and III expired in 2004 and new permit was granted.
Two additional Airparks have been developed. The North Airpark Annex, on Stearman St., was added in 1992 and the North Park Annex, on Skyraider and Corsair Streets, was added in 1994. Separate access permits were given the new additions for a 10 year period with renewal options.
Initial improvements for 7S5 were limited primarily to landside facilities. Construction has continued for leased hangar areas on the airport. The FBO building was remodeled to include a restaurant by Don and Annie Thomson, called "Annie’s at the Airport". Bobbi & Shelly Muis purchased the restaurant in 2004 and renamed it the "Starduster Café". The FBO rental hangars have also been remodeled and upgraded. Underground aircraft fuel storage tanks were installed by ODA in 1985 and a card-lock facility was installed in 2003.
The Independence State Airport Master Plan was prepared by Century West Engineering Corporation, Bend Oregon, and adopted by ODOT/AD in November 1985. That year, the Polk County Board of Commissioners established Ordinance No. 78, Chapter 180 and 181, to amend the Polk County Zoning Ordinance, establishing the Airport Development District, including the height restriction over-lay for the airport.
After commemorative flights in 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1993 over the Old Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri to Independence, Oregon, the Independence State Airport was rededicated as the "End of the Oregon Trail Airport" on August 14, 1993. This Sesquicentennial Celebration and rededication included: participation of 40 aircraft and 90 persons who flew the trail; representatives of the City of Independence; the M/I C of C, Polk County; the Oregon Trail Coordinating Council; Evergreen AirVentures Museum; the Polk County Historical Society; and the Oregon Aeronautics Division.
In 1995, local representatives of the airport became members of the Independence Monmouth Positive Action Community Team (IMPACT), a long range planning effort for the two cities. The Infrastructure Subcommittee of IMPACT helped in organizing an Independence State Airport Support Group (ISAS Group) on December 11, 1996 as a permanent advisory group to the Oregon Department of Transportation, Aeronautic Division (ODOT/AD). The ISAS Group is made up representatives of local airport user groups and interested persons to help in the Planning, Development, Maintenance and Promotion of the airport. The ISAS Group was asked by the ODOT/AD to assist the engineering firm of Aron Faegre & Associates in Portland, to develop the Airport Layout Plan (ALP), which was completed in October 1997 and approved by FAA and ODOT/AD.
The ODOT/AD was separated from ODOT on passage of Senate Bill 108 in 1999 and became a separate Department of Aviation (ODA). The Oregon Aviation Board (OAB), was appointed by the governor in 2000.
Under the federal AIM 21 legislation, an AIP grant of over $1.5 million was designated for major improvements to Independence State Airport. Work was based on the 1997 ALP and the 1st phase completed in the fall of 2000. Additional FAA AIP grants were made available in 2002 and 2004, completing planned development of the present airport. The ALP calls for expansion of the airport on 41 acres on the west side to provide for a parallel taxiway, move the Agricultural Applicator facility to the west side and provide space for additional hangar leasing. Not included in the ALP but recommended by the EAA Chapter 292 to the ISAS Group, is to include a 1800 by 30 foot stabilized grass runway for Agriculture Applicator, Glider, Antique, Classic, Ultralight, and other similar low airspeed aircraft, minimizing congestion on the main runway.
Public activities have included: The Polk County OPA Chapter annual Pancake Breakfast Fly-In in July and Corn & Sausage Fly-In each fall; The Oregon Pilot Memorial Fly-By, Flag Ceremony and Community BBQ which have been planned each Memorial Day since 1998; and the Oregon Flying Farmers have scheduled the state-wide Annual Proficiency Training (APT) at Independence Airport since 2000. All pilots are invite to participate.
Andy Andersen, AOPA/ASN 7S5 volunteer
· Gary Viehdorfer, Oregon Aeronautics, ALP 1997
· Mary DeCanter, Oregon Pines Chapter 99s
· John Lorence, Early Independence Airpark Resident
· John Pfaff, Local Historian
· Loraine Gabel, Oregon Flying Farmers