Snohomish County Airport - Paine Field was originally
constructed in 1936 as a Works Progress project. At the time
of development, it was envisioned that the Airport would
create jobs and economic growth in the region by becoming one
of the ten new "super airports" around the country.
The large commercial airport that was planned for in the 1930s never
resulted. When the United States entered into World War II,
there was a need to protect the Bremerton Shipyards and the
Boeing plant and airfield in Seattle, which produced the B-17
and B-29 bombers. The Army Air Corps occupied the field in the
spring of 1941. At that time, Snohomish County Airport
consisted of little more than two paved runways in the common
cross-section pattern, set off at different angles to take
advantage of the most favorable winds.
The Army Air Corps manned Paine Field from 1941 to 1946. During that
time, they made improvements in the airbase and helped the
community economically even though most of the commercial
traffic came to a halt during the war. By the time World War
II came to a close, the military presence at Paine Field was
all but gone. In 1946, the airbase began to be returned to
county supervision. The final transfer of property back to
Snohomish County was complete in 1948.
Before the County could start planning for the continued development of a
"super airport," the United States was again
involved in an armed conflict—this time in Korea. When the
Pacific Northwest defense installations were reviewed it was
decided that a military presence would once again be felt at
Paine Field. In 1951, a United States Air Force Aerospace
Defense command unit was stationed at Paine Field and its name
was officially changed to Paine Air Force Base. At that time,
the 4753rd Air Base Squadron was designated as the principle
organization. By January of 1952, the personnel roster totaled
four officers and thirty-three airmen. Operations consisted
mostly of rebuilding the base into a Air defense installation
with F-86D's of the 83d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron. During this occupation, total control of
the field was not turned over to the military, instead it set
in place a shared-usage agreement. The airport conceded use of
all of the commercial facilities other than the aviation
services to provide housing for the troops.
The Air Force also
had priority over the use of the airport. The 4753rd Air Base
Squadron was redesignated to the 86th Air Base Squadron which
was later changed to the 529th Air Defense Group. In 1955, the
529th Air Defense Group and it's F-86's gave way to the 326th Fighter Group
(Air Defense) with F-89's of the 321st FIS and F-102's from
the 64th FIS in 1960. In 1961, the 326th Fighter Group was
discontinued and was replaced by the 57th Fighter Group. The
498th FIS flying F-106's would join the 57th at Paine after
the transfer of the 64th FIS and it's F-102's to Southeast
Asia in 1966 .
The year of 1968 proved to be the pivotal year in the history of
Snohomish County Airport. The Air Force had all but pulled out
of Paine Field leaving it open for exclusive commercial
considerations. The Boeing Company was looking for an area
large enough to construct an assembly plant for the B-747.
Land just north of Paine Field was chosen to construct the new
facilities, including some development on the airport itself.
Both the local government and the FAA concurred with the
The Boeing Company has been the largest business both in size and
economic impact to come to Paine Field; however, many more
businesses have followed their lead, including BFGoodrich Aerospace, which operates the largest aerospace repair
facility in North America. Today, Snohomish County Airport is
home to over fifty-five on-site businesses providing over
30,000 jobs to the community.
on information from Snohomish County
Airport-Paine Field Homepage