Chandler’s Airport Blends Historic Roots with Vision for the Future

May 26, 2021
| by:
Communications and Public Affairs

Chandler’s hometown airport is buzzing with new activity while keeping an eye on the past. Over the course of nearly a century, the Chandler Municipal Airport(CHD) has grown from humble beginnings into one of the busiest general aviation airports in the country.

Today, Chandler serves more than 228,000 operations each year. The airport hosts a variety of general aviation activities, including flight training, charter flights, military exercises, public safety operations, aircraft maintenance, avionics, and aircraft sales.

From the 1920s to Today

The history of Chandler’s airport can be traced back to the town’s earliest moments. When planning for the future town, Dr. A.J. Chandler had a vision to include an airport for the economic benefits and growth potential access to aviation could bring the town.

The airport destined to become the Chandler Municipal Airport we know today was born in 1927. For a brief period, Chandler’s original airport served guests of the San Marcos Hotel. Due to the financial crisis of the Great Depression, followed by restrictions to civilian air activity during World War II, the plans for further airport expansion were put on hold indefinitely. In 1948, the Town of Chandler revived its vision and reopened the airport on the site on which it lives today — south of Germann Road, between McQueen and Gilbert roads.

Today, nearly 500 aircraft call Chandler Municipal Airport home. According to the Chandler Municipal Airport business coordinator Ryan Reeves, CHD maintains strong relationships with its tenants, some of whom have housed their aircraft at the airport for “40, 50, even 60 years without interruption.”

“Some of our longtime residents went through flight school and learned to fly here,” Reeves said. “This is their home.”

Chandler Municipal Airport c1948

The majority of planes now based out of Chandler Municipal Airport are small, single-engine, aircraft used for general aviation purposes. However, the airport also is home to and a destination for larger planes, up to and including mid-size business jets.

Along with serving as a long-time home and destination for pilots and businesses, CHD plays an integral role in balancing Valley air traffic and keeping stress off of Sky Harbor.

“We are designated by the FAA as a reliever airport, meaning we are able to accommodate smaller aircraft to keep more air traffic away from Sky Harbor, helping to keep that major airport running smoothly,” Reeves said. “This leaves air traffic open for larger jets and passenger aircraft to utilize the Sky Harbor airspace.”

Chandler Airpark: An Economic Engine

As the anchor to the Airpark Area and its ability to bring in business travelers and accommodate corporate aircraft, Chandler’s airport is a vital contributor to the City’s economic ecosystem. Today, Chandler Municipal Airport is the driving force behind more than $110 million in economic activity each year.

In fact, the Airpark Area is growing faster than any other employment corridor in Chandler, adding 1,310 jobs year-over-year per MAG's 2019 Employer Database. The current total estimate of jobs in the area is 10,710.

The Airpark is primed to contribute to Chandler’s long-term economic growth and development. As Chandler approaches build out, the Airpark area offers large, undeveloped tracts of land designated for employment uses — an important resource for the City’s ability to add more jobs in the future.

Beyond the Airpark, the Airport contributes to Chandler’s important tourism industry. When corporate travelers visit Chandler, they seek out local businesses for shopping, dining and entertainment, their tax dollars staying in the City.

Chandler’s vibrant hotels, restaurants and entertainment options are benefited by short-term guests, whose money spent in the City supports business owners as well as residents who enjoy thriving amenities.

Master Plan and the Future of the Airport

In 2019, the City of Chandler began the process of developing an Airport Master Plan — a comprehensive, long-range study of the airport that describes plans to meet FAA standards and future aviation demand at CHD.

The master plan, now approved by the Chandler City Council, serves as a guide for the next 20 years of the Airport’s growth and development while leaving room to evolve as needs arise over the next two decades.

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