ROCKFORD, ILL. – A major player in northern Illinois air transportation, Chicago Rockford International Airport (KRFD), is one of the host airports for the annual Illinois Aviation Conference to be held May 13-14, 2015 at the Clock Tower Resort in Rockford.
The airport traces its history back to 1917, when Camp Grant was established during World War I as a U.S. Army Cavalry Camp. During the events of World War II, Camp Grant was made into a military training base and prisoner of war confinement center.
Following the war, the state of Illinois adopted the Airport Authority Act. The Greater Rockford Airport Authority was created in 1946. For more than 40 years, the facility was referred to as the Greater Rockford Airport, serving the area as a regional airport. In 1987, the current passenger terminal was constructed in an effort to attract more passenger service. Six years later, United Parcel Service opened its first of two cargo facilities at the airport.
In an effort to capitalize on the airport’s location (less than 90 miles from downtown Chicago and about 30 miles from the outermost Chicago suburbs, its name was changed to Northwest Chicagoland Regional Airport at Rockford in the early 2000s. In 2004, the airport became an official U.S. port of entry and achieved international status; that year, it was renamed the Chicago/Rockford International Airport (the slash was removed in 2007). The name was not only shorter, but the change also brought it in line with the other two Chicago airports – O’Hare International Airport and Chicago Midway International Airport.
Today, Chicago Rockford International Airport is marketed to residents of Rockford and surrounding areas as an alternative to Midway and O’Hare in Chicago, Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Wis., and Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, Wis., as well as limited service airports such as Dubuque Regional Airport in Iowa.
Rockford offers passengers eight non-stop jet flights to world destinations including Cancun, Ft. Myers, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, Puerto Vallarta, Punta Cana, and Tampa Bay. Rockford also one of 25 top cargo airports in the United States. In addition, it was recently announced that AAR Corps, an aviation company which supplies aerospace and government/defense industries, will build a new $40 million maintenance and repair facility on the airport.
Chicago Rockford International Airport covers 2,900 acres and has two runways, both with Instrument Landing Systems (ILS): 1/19 is 8,199 x 150 ft., and 7/25 is 10,004 x 150 ft. In 2006, the airport had 77,558 aircraft operations, or an average of 212 per day: 72% general aviation, 18% scheduled commercial, 6% air taxi and 3% military.
Rockford holds one of the largest annual airshows in the country. This year Rockford AirFest will feature the U.S. Navy Blue Angels jet team, and the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team, June 6-7, 2015 (www.RockfordAirFest.com).
Air shows have played an integral role in the history of the Rockford airport. From 1959 to 1969, the annual convention and fly-in of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) was held there.
Michael P. Dunn, Director
Heading up Chicago Rockford International Airport is its director, Michael P. Dunn.
From 2001 to 2011, Dunn served as a commissioner on the Greater Rockford Airport Authority Board, and as chairman from 2003-2011. He was appointed regional director of government affairs in 2010, and in January 2012, he was appointed airport director.
Dunn is a former assistant to Illinois Governor James R. Thompson and remains extremely involved in governmental and political issues at the local, regional, state and national levels. From 1990 to 2008, Dunn served as vice president and general manager of Dickerson & Nieman Realtors. With sales at $20 million in 1990 and over $550 million in 2008, Dickerson & Nieman became one of the largest residential real estate companies in the country.
Since 2001, Dunn has served as a member of the board of directors for Rockford Mutual Insurance Company, and from 2009, as a member of the OSF St. Anthony Hospital Board of Advisors. Since May of 2010, he has served as chairman of the Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment (RAVE) Authority. RAVE is the governmental authority that now operates and manages the downtown Rockford sports and concert arena (BMO Harris Bank Arena), Davis Park festival grounds, Coronado Performing Arts Theatre, and the Rockford Ice Hogs, an American Hockey League team that is the AAA affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks.
For additional information on Chicago Rockford International Airport, go to www.FlyRFD.com.
Poplar Grove Airport
Poplar Grove Airport in Poplar Grove, Illinois (C77) is the other host airport for the Illinois Aviation Conference. Poplar Grove is one of the most “popular” residential airparks in the Midwest. The airport is home to Bel Air Estates, Poplar Grove Airmotive, and Vintage Wings & Wheels Museum.