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Airport History

Over a Century of Service

Harrisburg International Airport has been serving Central Pennsylvania for over 100 years. First, in 1898, the Signal Corps of the U.S. Army was stationed here. Then, the first airplanes landed in 1918 at what was then called Olmsted Air Force Base. By the time it was decommissioned in 1969, the base had grown to employ 11,400 civilians. At this point, Harrisburg International Airport began to serve the public, under the ownership of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

In 1998, the Commonwealth transferred ownership to the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority (SARAA), the board that oversees ownership of the airport. The Authority board consists of community volunteers appointed to staggered, five-year terms by the elected officials from Cumberland, Dauphin, and York counties, the cities of Harrisburg and York, and Fairview and Lower Swatara townships.

In addition to owning Harrisburg International Airport, SARAA also owns Capital City Airport in New Cumberland, York County. Capital City Airport (founded in 1938 as York State Airport) served as the commercial service airport for central Pennsylvania until the creation of HIA in 1969.

In July of 2004, SARAA, in conjunction with the FAA and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's Bureau of Aviation, acquired the Chambersburg Municipal Airport and re-named it Franklin County Regional Airport. The general aviation facility is located in Greene Township, Franklin County.

In August of 2006, SARAA acquired another general aviation airport, the Gettysburg Travel Center, and renamed it the Gettysburg Regional Airport. The facility is located in Cumberland Township, Adams County.
Today, approximately 1,400 people work within the airport system of Harrisburg International, Capital City, Franklin County Regional, and Gettysburg Regional Airports. Together these facilities safely and efficiently handle approximately 150,000 aircraft operations each year. Additionally, they provide Pennsylvania residents with the opportunity to remain connected with the global marketplace via aviation. 

 

History of Commericial Air Service for Harrisburg, PA

The original airport for Harrisburg was opened on October 25, 1930.  It was known at that time as Capital Landing Field. Later, in 1930, it was designated Harrisburg Airport.

In 1936, The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased the airport from the Capital Landing Field Company and named it Harrisburg State Airport.

In 1958, after rebuilding and expansion, it was re-named Harrisburg-York State Airport.

In 1966, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania acquired the facilities formerly occupied by Olmsted Air Force Base at Middletown, Pennsylvania and on January 12, 1968, the commercial operations at Harrisburg-York State Airport were transferred to the newly designated Olmsted State Airport.

On January 12, 1968, Harrisburg York State Airport became a general aviation facility operated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  On September 17, 1971, a port of entry was approved.  This action officially authorized Olmsted State Airport to be re-designated Harrisburg International Airport.