Dothan Airport 1957

A 1957 Soil Conservation Service photo shows Dothan Municipal Airport.

A: Yes. Dothan Municipal Airport, located on the property that is now Westgate Park, was the town’s original municipal airport.

According to information on a website (http://www.airfields-freeman.com/AL/Airfields_AL_SE.htm) under the name “Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: Southeastern Alabama,” the date the airfield was constructed is unknown but it was included on maps and in airport directories in the 1930s.

The earliest reference to the field cited by the website is the 1934 Department of Commerce Airport Directory, which described the airport as having two sod runways, the longest being 2,100 feet.

The Airport Directory Company’s 1937 Airports Directory described the airport as having two sod runways, the longest being a 2,500-foot east-west strip.

According to information on the Dothan Regional Airport website, the City of Dothan opened its first airport in August of 1940 on the site that is now Westgate Park.

“Eastern Airlines began service into Dothan that same month with Douglas DC-2 aircraft which were soon replaced with DC-3s,” the DRA website says.

During World War II, the airport was taken over by the U.S. Army, which named it Dothan Auxiliary #2, and used as one of four satellite fields for Napier Army Airfield, which conducted advanced and specialized training in single-engine aircraft, including P-40 fighters.

The 1945 AAF Airfield Directory described “Napier Army Airfield Auxiliary #2 (Dothan Municipal Airport)" as a 265-acre triangular property, within which were three bituminous runways, the longest being the 4,000-foot northeast/southwest and north-northwest/south-southeast strips.

The field was said to have a single 80-foot by 60-foot steel hangar owned by Houston County and the City of Dothan and operated by the Army Air Forces.

The field was returned to its prior use as a municipal airport after World War II. It was depicted as an active airport on the 1964 Mobile Sectional Chart with three runways, the longest being a 4,006-foot asphalt strip.

The DRA website says Eastern continued to serve Dothan through the 1940s and 1950s, upgrading to the Martin 404 aircraft in the ‘50s.

Southern Airways began service into Dothan in 1958 with DC-3s. For a short period, both Eastern and Southern operated in Dothan before Eastern discontinued its service.

Southern Airways continued to serve Dothan with DC-3s and Martin 404s though the mid-1960s when Southern began acquiring McDonnell-Douglas DC-9 jet aircraft.

The DRA website says it was not possible to lengthen the runways at the original airport to accommodate the jets so the airport moved to its current location at the former Napier Army Airfield in February 1965.

The airport property was listed as “abandoned” starting in the late 1960s. The property was used for a time as a drag strip before the city began developing Westgate Park.

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