Falcon Field: Mesa’s First Airport

falcon field

Our Mesa Leadership tour today was to Falcon Field, in northeast Mesa. We got to go into the FAA Air Traffic Control Tower to see how the air traffic controllers manage incoming and outgoing aircraft. (No photos in the control room were allowed.)

Falcon Field is a general aviation airport owned and operated by the city of Mesa. Located in northeast Mesa, Falcon Field is minutes from hotels and resorts, major league spring training baseball, outdoor recreation, entertainment, shopping, Arizona State University and other metro area cities.

(Top aerial photo from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wingsnstuff/7340111016)

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Falcon Field serves as a reliever to Phoenix Sky Harbor International and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway airports, the region’s two commercial service hubs. It is convenient to three major freeways, including the Loop 202 Red Mountain Freeway, the 101 Freeway north-south corridor, and Highway 60 Superstition Freeway east-west corridor.

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Airport amenities include:

  • More than 700 based aircraft.
  • Two runways of 5,100 and 3,800 feet accommodate a wide variety of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.
  • FAA air traffic control tower.
  • Fixed-base operator provides competitive fuel prices and pilot services.
  • Three national car rental firms located on-airport.
  • More than 80 on-airport businesses provide aviation services – fueling, maintenance and repairs, inspections, avionics, aircraft painting and aircraft interiors – to support aircraft operations, manufacturing, or research & development activities.
  • Aircraft charters, recreational, sight-seeing and photography flights, and flight instruction are offered by multiple on-airport businesses.
  • Near-perfect flying weather with 325+ days of sunshine annually
  • On-airport parcels with runway/taxiway access are available for immediate development.
  • Variety of unique hangar facilities available to fit business needs.
  • Highly competitive, business friendly lease terms.
  • Surrounding 1,000-acre business district offers a wide range of affordable options. Available properties can accommodate the smallest start-up to an industry leader requiring thousands of square feet. Six industrial parks are located throughout the district, creating an ideal environment for small to large manufacturing and commercial enterprises.

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Did you know?

Falcon Field got its start before World War II when Hollywood producer Leland Hayward and pilot John H. “Jack” Connelly founded Southwest Airways with funding from friends like Henry Fonda, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, James Stewart, Hoagy Carmichael and others. Southwest Airways operated two other airfields in Arizona — Thunderbird Field No. 1 (now the site of Thunderbird School of Global Management) and Thunderbird Field No. 2 (now the site of Scottsdale Airport) — to train pilots from China, Russia and 24 other Allied nations. Falcon was to be Thunderbird Field III and would train British pilots.

But the British said they’d like the field to be named after one of their birds, and thus Falcon Field opened as the No. 4 British Flying Training School (BFTS). There were six BFTS airfields in the U.S., in Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, California and Arizona.

In September 1941 the first cadets of the Royal Air Force arrived. They trained in Stearman PT-17s and North American Aviation AT-6s. The good weather, wide-open desert terrain, and lack of enemy airpower provided safer and more efficient training than was possible in England. Even so, twenty-three British cadets, one American cadet and four instructors were killed and are now buried in the Mesa City Cemetery, along with several colleagues who have since died of natural causes. Several thousand pilots were trained there until the RAF installation was closed at the end of the war. The City of Mesa purchased the field from the U.S. government for $1.

From 1945-65 the field was leased out to industrial interests, including Talley Defense Systems, Astro Rocket Inc., Rocket Power Inc., the Gabriel Company and others.

Eventually it became a civil airfield, and is now owned and operated by the city of Mesa. Falcon Field is the home of CAE Oxford Aviation Academy, the largest flight school in the world. Student pilots from Belgium, The Netherlands, the UK, Italy, Turkey and Vietnam fly out of Falcon Field. Since 1976 Falcon Field has been the home of Airbase Arizona, one of the largest units in the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) which operates a flying B-17G “Sentimental Journey” and a B-25J “Maid in the Shade” among other aircraft.

(This information was from Wikipedia.)

For more information on Falcon Field, go to: http://www.mesaaz.gov/business/falcon-field-airport

 

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We also got to tour the Mesa Police Department’s Aviation Unit, based at Falcon Field. We were given a presentation about the history and success of the program.

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“Don’t bother to run…you’ll just go to jail tired!”

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Did you know?

Mesa Police helicopters average nearly 8 flight hours per day, seven days per week, and answers an average of 18 calls each day. Each year the helicopter proves to be an invaluable law enforcement tool, and its average response time to a scene is 54 seconds. The Aviation Section, since employing the helicopter, has assisted in recovering nearly $18,000,000 in stolen property and in locating over 600 missing persons (most of whom have been lost children).

From: http://mesaaz.gov/residents/police/divisions/aviation-unit-falcon-field

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Currently there are two fixed-wing aircraft: a Cessna 172N Skyhawk and a Cessna P210 Centurion. The Cessna Centurion’s primary roles are to provide aerial surveillance, conduct large-area searches and various transport services. The Cessna 172N Skyhawk is utilized for primary pilot training, currency and patrol functions, when needed.

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For more information, go to: http://mesaaz.gov/residents/police/divisions/aviation-unit-falcon-field

 

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