The Sarasota Bradenton Airport
In 1939, when plans were being conceived for The Sarasota Bradenton Airport, the location chosen was “out in the country. There was almost no development for some distance in a southerly direction and none for nearly six miles to the north. In 1940 the airport became a project of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA). When the U.S. involvement in WWII loomed, the War Department approved it as part of the National Defense Plan. The anticipated expense for labor as follows: unskilled labor 31-cents/hour, semi-skilled labor 37-cents/hour and skilled labor 48-cents/hour. With war seeming to be unavoidable, the land acquired soon reached some 620 acres. More than 300 Manatee and Sarasota men were employed in the last part of 1940, providing great local economic assistance in those post-depression years.
Leased to the Army Air Corps in early 1942, the newly constructed Sarasota Bradenton Airport became Sarasota Army Airfield. In March of 1942, elements of the 97th bomb Group arrived in Sarasota for six weeks of final phase training prior to entering combat. The airplanes brought in by this group were Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses, classified as heavy bombers. One of the flight instructors was Captain Paul Tibbets, the pilot of the B-29 “Enola Gay, the plane that delivered the first Atomic Bomb to Hiroshima, Japan. There were no barracks for the men and one of the first orders of business was to erect tents for sleeping and eating. Records from the 97th Bomb Group log read: “The field was located in what looked to be a swamp studded with palmettos. When it rained, the runways were unable to support the weight of the B-17s and in July, 1942, the airport became an Army Air Corp fighter pilot training facility called the Sarasota Army Air Field. First to arrive was the Bell P-39 “Aircobra”, next came the Curtiss P-40 “Warhawk” and finally the North American P-51 “Mustang”.
In February 1965, the jet age was officially introduced to the area by National Airlines with jet service between Sarasota-Bradenton and New York, operating 103 passenger Boeing 727 airplanes. In November 1992 the U.S. Customs Service gave it “Port of Entry” status thus making it an International airport.
In addition to providing facilities for commercial aviation, general aviation facilities are located on the north side of the airport: Hangers, maintenance, flight instruction, repairs and fueling are available for private aviation customers.
The airport is shared by both Manatee County (airfield) and Sarasota County (terminal). The total number of passengers using the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) in 2009 was over 1.3 million. A large portion of the airport's commercial airline service occurs during the winter and spring months. It is an IFR (Instrument Flight Rule Facility) serving aircraft as large as the Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.
Most airlines refer to the airport on destination maps and flight status displays as just "Sarasota", as that is the more widely known city. The airport is usually referred to locally as "SRQ."
Air Force One had delivered President George W. Bush to SRQ on September 10, 2001 for a 9/11 visit to the Emma E. Booker Elementary School. He was listening to the children read when terrorists struck the World Trade Center. He flew out that day, some say Air Force One took off from the taxiway, not even waiting to get on the tarmac. The plane taxied at 9:54 AM and lifted off at 9:55 AM.
You can get anywhere in the world starting from the Sarasota–Bradenton International Airport.
AirTran added service to Atlanta-Hartsfield/Jackson, and Baltimore-Washington International, the airline serves five U.S. destinations with non-stop flights from SRQ.
Delta has also announced new service out of SRQ, which includes winter/spring seasonal service to Boston and LaGuardia airports.
- Air Canada to Toronto-Pearson [seasonal]
- AirTran Airways to Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago-Midway, Milwaukee /seasonal: Boston, Indianapolis
- Delta Air Lines to Atlanta, Boston, LaGuardia, Detroit [seasonal]
- Delta Connection operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines to Atlanta
- Delta Connection operated by Comair to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky
- Delta Connection operated by Pinnacle Airlines to Memphis [seasonal]
- JetBlue Airways to Boston [seasonal], New York-JFK
- US Airways Express operated by PSA Airlines to Charlotte
- US Airways Express operated by Republic Airlines to Charlotte, Washington-Reagan
Maps & Flight Status:
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Attribution - Wikipedia® Creative Commons. Airport map: US Geological Survey.