ALEXANDRIA, MINN. – The rural farming and recreational community of Alexandria, Minnesota in west central Minnesota, is hosting the 2013 “Minnesota Airports Conference,” April 17-19 at the Arrowhead Conference Center.
Known for its prestigious lakes, Alexandria is a vacation and recreational hot spot in the summer, and the cold spot in the winter. The community is located 132 miles northwest of the Twin Cities.
Alexandria Airport had its beginnings in 1932 with northeast/southwest and northwest/southeast runways, 2000 and 1800 ft. long by 300 ft. wide, respectively, with a standard 100 ft. circle at their junction. The federal government provided weather 24 hours a day from a 16 by 20 ft. building, heated with a coal stove in those days, for airmail pilots, primarily. In October 1942, the Alexandria Airport was awarded a $950,000 makeover by the Civil Aeronautics Authority for national defense purposes.
The “War Powers Act” confiscated another 535 acres, which the City of Alexandria paid landowners a total of $37,387.30. The federal government paved the runways and the airport was used as a refueling and emergency base for bombers. An FAA Flight Service Station was built and operated from the 1940s until 1990 when it was closed and operations were consolidated in Princeton, Minn.
Bellanca Aircraft moved to Alexandria in 1954, where 1,356 Bellanca Vikings were built. Bellanca also built the Eagle spray plane from 1979 to 1983 for a total of 93 aircraft. Bellanca Aircraft is still located on the field and is now owned by Alexandria Aircraft, LLC, providing parts only. Other businesses include Webers Aero Repair, specializing in Bellanca aircraft; Life Link III helicopter transport; and Alexandria Aviation.
Today, Alexandria Airport has two runways: 13/31 is 5100 x 100 feet with ILS and GPS WAAS approaches; Runway 04/22 is 4100 x 75 feet with VOR and GPS WAAS approaches. There are 52 aircraft based at the airport. A 90 x 100 ft. corporate-style transient hangar is pending FAA approval. There are 26,000 operations a year at Alexandria, and the airport is classified as a “key airport” by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Office of Aeronautics.
Airport managers have included Harold Chandler from the 1960s to mid-1970s. In 1978, the City of Alexandria named the airport “Chandler Field” in his honor. From the mid-1970s to 1985, Don Clobes was airport manager. Al Bennewitz was manager from 1985 until 2008 when Todd Roth assumed the position.